Friday, April 12, 2013

Exxon security at the Mayflower spill

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 10:10 AM

More interesting video above from the Tar Sands Blockade, an activist group that is looking at the impact of the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline break.

At the 4:49 mark in the video, you'll see an interesting exchange with a Faulkner County sheriff's deputy — a nice, patient guy it would seem — taking questions about his off-duty work providing security in public uniform for ExxonMobil, including the duty of keeping onlookers as far as possible from the cleanup work. In the name of safety, of course.

No conclusions drawn except one that was also easy to draw from the fine Benjamin Krain aerial photo in the morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of cleanup work in the Bell Slough Wildlife Management Area. If you haven't been on the ground, you might be led to think the spill damage — bad though it is — is localized near the pipeline break and the subdivision of 22 homes evacuated as a result. The lost oil, thousands of barrels, has migrated over a great distance and the wetlands and relatively flat terrain don't lend themselves to ready containment.

UPDATE: A Game and Fish Commission spokesman writes to say the aerial photo in newspaper this morning was of territory not in the Wildlife Management Area, but in a cove of the Commission's Lake Conway separated from the main body of the lake by Highway 89 and a bit north of Bell Slough. He said that no oil has been found in Bell Slough. That doesn't diminish my point that the spread of the oil into wetlands, in Bell Slough or nearby, is wider than many might assume based on the focus on localized damage in the Mayflower subdivision, which sits a good distance, separated by a freeway, from where oil has been found. Reporting also indicates oil continues to leak. From somewhere. Much — much — remains to be known about pipeline maintenance, the cause of the break, the amount of oil lost, where all that oil went, what other chemicals migrated, how damaged parties will be made whole and what the pipeline break will, or should, mean for future oversight of these and other pipelines.

The breadth of the unknowns would seem to a reasonable person to support caution in hasty building of another pipeline to carry the same kind of tar sand product through a sensitive Nebraska aquifer for transport to a refinery making products for overseas shipment. U.S. Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin has not been receptive to this point of view to date, however. Build the Keystone XL, he says, and build it now. A few dozen jobs will come. Future Mayflowers? Well, didn't somebody say this was creating a little economic boomlet from feeding and housing disaster workers and hiring moonlighting security and people willing to put their own health at risk to clean up the mess? Griffin and Sen. Jason Rapert ought to pose for some photo ops with the cleanup crews. Smells like money.

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