Still no news on the cause of the May 31 rupture of an auxiliary section of the Texas Eastern pipeline beneath the Arkansas River, but operator Spectra Energy said over the weekend that it has located a 400 foot section of pipe that "became disconnected as a result of the May 31, 2015 incident." (Google Maps and an index card tell me that the river is a little over 1000 feet wide near that point.)
"This segment of pipeline traveled downstream from its original location and now lies along the north bank of the Arkansas River. The nearest end of the pipe segment appears to be approximately 100 feet downstream from the original pipeline crossing," a spokesperson for the company said in a news release earlier today.
Spectra said it will begin recovering the pipe for inspection as soon as river conditions permit it to send divers into the water, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. The Arkansas remains dangerously high after weeks of rain.
"Once the recovery process begins, the pipe will be cut into sections for safe removal and transport from the area. Some of the cuts will be made under water, and further cuts will take place once the pipe is raised onto a barge," the spokesperson said.
The main line of the Texas Eastern — which is a little downstream of the auxiliary section — remains turned off for now as a precaution. "Sonar surveys indicate that approximately 450 feet of the main line is now partially uncovered at the riverbed," Spectra said. Whether a similarly eroded condition may have contributed to the backup line's failure is still unknown.
I did get confirmation from a Spectra representative over the weekend about a portion of the account given by Mike Metzler, who examined damage caused to the nearby towboat Chris M after the incident. The company representative said that concrete was indeed found on the deck of the vessel, and that this concrete was coating from the ruptured auxiliary pipeline. However, he maintained that "there is no evidence of combustion"; Metzler earlier said he believed the concrete fragments he saw were charred from a fire.
I'll take this opportunity to post a cell phone video sent in last week by Kenny Grober, a reader who happened to be at the Downtown Riverside RV park in North Little Rock when the incident occurred. Grober said the plumes of water were initially far higher — over a hundred feet.
When I asked Grober last week if he considered contacting authorities about the incident — which was not called to the attention of the Coast Guard or others until over 24 hours later — he told me that a police car pulled up while he and others stood watching the river. The officer asked the bystanders if they knew what was happening on the river, Grober said, and when they replied 'no,' the cop drove off.
The river is expected to peak at higher levels than those seen after torrential rains this spring. In places — including Dardanelle, Ozark and Morrilton — it's expected to match or exceed the historic flooding in 1990. /more/
Based on eyewitness accounts, it appears the rupture of the auxiliary Texas Eastern Pipeline used to transport natural gas across the Arkansas River occurred around 9:40 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, May 31. Mike Metzler, a captain with Harbor Services, is convinced the pipeline exploded. /more/
Accurate replicas of the Nina and Pinta, two of the three ships Christoper Columbus sailed over the ocean blue back in 1492, will be docking in Little Rock's Julius Breckling Riverfront Park on Wednesday afternoon. They'll be open for tours from Thursday, Oct. 9, until their departure on Tuesday, Oct. 21. /more/
The big pipeline gusher today in California that sent between 10,000 and 50,000 gallons of crude oil into a Los Angeles suburb occurred at a pump station run by Plains Pipeline LP, a unit of Plains All American. /more/
The hearing was not acrimonious, but the substance of the public comment illustrated divergent visions for the heavily regulated industry-to-be. Will Arkansas marijuana be dominated by out-of-state marijuana interests?
Russell Racop has filed, as promised, his lawsuit over the State Police's refusal — under guidance from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge — to release records that provide information that led to the firing of current Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet as a state trooper.
The State Police have issued a minor clarification in what appears to be an effort to soothe an enraged Sen. Jason Rapert, exposed here as overly excited about both a Conway parking lot question from a constituent as well as some inflammatory Internet rhetoric that he's interpreted as a dire threat on his life. State cops took his reports seriously, they say. But in the end, they found nothing actionable.
Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.
Lee Short, the lawyer for Ledell Lee, the man Arkansas put to death just before midnight last night, posted on Facebook the following letter of thanks for personal support and a bit about Lee's last hours, distributing his possessions and talking to family.
Photos taken Thursday night by Brian Chilson and David Koon, at Cummins Prison in Grady, the State Police barricade away from the prison and in front of the Governor's Mansion, before and after the execution of Ledell Lee.