Monday, March 31, 2014

The Intimate Fantasy Lives of Charles and David Koch

Fantasy feeds the soul, supplying what reality cannot.  Fantasy is also a way to see others differently and so make them more accessible and more real.  


In the 1960s nearly every young man who was thinking about freedom and the works of Ayn Rand was also fantasizing about either Dagny Taggart or Ayn Rand herself. One fellow of our acquaintance sent Ayn his papers of mathematical esoterica and introduced himself to her by sitting in the lobby of her apartment building holding fresh orchids every morning.

He had also bought a new suit and had a manicure. He was serious about his passion for the woman who wrote Atlas Shrugged.

It was a little depressing that he received a notice from Ayn's attorney telling him to stay away from her, but at least he had been noticed. He cherished the memory and ever after did all in his power to get close to her – even to the point of going into therapy with Nathaniel Branden, her former lover.

And so it was for many who called themselves Objectivists, wearing the icon of their passion, the solid gold dollar-sign, under their impeccably pressed shirts.

If you were reading Rand you know. You experienced that far away, haunted look in the eyes of men who were young enough to be Ayn's sons. No matter, her flashing eyes and intellect caught them like the flame which burned on the end of their cigarettes, lighing up the world with what was possible but beyond their grasps.

The New York Inner Circle generation included Charles and David Koch, whose intensely private life styles might have made haunting Ayn Rand with flowers and being there to light her cigarettes too daunting to be attempted in the flesh. But that does not mean they did not fantasize about crushing her in their arms, or that they did not wear the symbol of their resonance with her ideas under their tailored shirts.

Likely, they did.

Let us, for a few brief moments, enter into the fantasy life of the brothers, Koch.

Is the reason David did not settle down to marriage until so late in love because he harbored fantasies of Ayn? Was his first glimpse of her the photo on the back of Atlas Shrugged?

Is that why he moved to New York? To walk the streets which she knew, gaze up at the apartment where she lived, and, after her death, be close enough to lay flowers on her grave, sighing for what could never be?

Does the solid gold dollar sign he purchased, filled with passion for her, still rest in a drawer, folded into the handkerchief she dropped after one of the speaking engagements he covertly attended? It could be. And did David ever voice his passion to brother Charles, who also, likely harbored his own passions and fantasies.

The brothers were unlikely to confide something so intimate to each other. But you can imagine them sitting together, discussing one of her books, each occasionally touching their shirt which laid over the golden pledge to her. If they shared the feelings of their generation the symbol would bring with the touch a sense of reverence for the woman whose words moved them.

If so, it is likely Charles had the larger dollar sign. He, is far more driven than his younger brother. But would the richness of Charles' fantasies have the depth and richness brother David could give?

We can imagine David as he knelt to pick up the handkerchief which he so lovingly wrapped around this dollar sign, looking up to see the woman he adored walking out, looking in his eyes like a goddess of the mind.

Like so many, David likely rewrote the scene in the Statue of Liberty in his mind. There, in his mind, he would have clasped Ayn in his arms and told her she would be his, and only his.

The fellow of our acquaintance, mentioned earlier, lived such a fantasy. In his fantasy he paid off Frank and Nathan, buying out the interest each had in Ayn. He could never understand, however, why Ayn reacted with outrage when she showed her the quit-claim deeds. He reported that, in his fantasy, she belting him in the chops. He tried, he said, to make it come out differently, but always failed.

What fantasy would David had created? He could have afforded to bury her apartment building in orchids – or give you a car with a body made of gold sheathing. His gift of love would have to be frivolous, but meaningful.

What if he had offered her youth? Even then there were murmurs of the extended years of life which money could buy.

We can only imagine.

And then, we wonder if the brothers ever unbent enough to share their mutual passion and found relief in discussing their feelings for Ayn.

Could it be? Or, was Charles obsessed with a different fantasy, one which made him dominant, demanding Ayn's love.

What kind of a man would Charles have to have been to have Ayn for his own? What if all of his efforts over the last years have their origin in a blinding desire to be worthy of the only woman who ever truly moved him? If, he thought, he was the richest man in the world, then, she would yield to him. What if, to conquer her, Charles became determined to conquer the world for her?

A dollar sign over his heart and her picture looking at him every time he touches his call phone. A sanctuary in a place private only to him, where her face gazes down on him. The chaste decor would be filled with books she touched, clothing she wore, and a faint scent of her perfume, always hanging in the air. Charles hungered for the only thing he could never have.

Charles I, Emperor of the World
And of Ayn's Heart


Exxon, the master media manipulators, have continued to hide or obscure many of the basic facts about the nature of tar sands oil spills and their health risks by referring to them as “heavy oil.” It has now been 11 months since the March 29, 2013 pipeline catastrophe in Mayflower, Arkansas, yet still many secrets remain. This series will pull back the curtain to answer some of the simplest questions which Exxon does not want us to ask and which they have flatly refused to answer. Finally, we will begin to answer these questions in surprising ways which will forever change the way we look at Alberta tar sands development.

The Secret Sauce
What do you get when you add a group of known cancer causing chemicals such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs incl. BTEX) to a naturally occurring poison like bitumen tar? You get a dangerous toxic mess the oil companies call Dilbit, which is basically just pitch tar liberally mixed with natural gasoline. 

Figure 16 Dilbit Viscosity vs. Temperature Curve

Source: Conoco Phillipsi

As we covered in Part 1 of this series, Dilbits often start out as “hockey puck” hard hydrocarbon Bitumen, and then are injected with chemicals and frequently steam heated to make it flow into the production pipe. Compared with other Heavy Oils, Wabasca Heavy crude is one of the Dirtiest, hardest and most resistant to flow of any oil in the world. As a result it must be combined with a high amount of Diluent as a highly toxic solvent consisting of natural gasoline. The Bitumen is blended with Light Oil/Condensates containing lighter hydrocarbons like Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene (BTEX), the toxic organic solvents added to make the Dilbits flow long distances in a pipeline (sometimes!).

One of the Diluted Bitumens or Dilbits from Canada was identified in the Tar Sands oil that catastrophically flowed through the neighborhood of Mayflower, Arkansas from a ruptured Exxon pipeline on March 29, 2013. This Tar Sands spill of at least 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) spread into the residential neighborhood of Northwoods subdivision causing the evacuation of some 22 homes (at least 20 bought by Exxon) and the eventual destruction of 3 houses so far. The evacuation was due to contamination with carcinogenic VOCs and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) which can persist for decades in soil, water and buildings and furniture.
Dilbit was also the type of Tar Sands oil which contaminated 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan from a burst Enbridge pipeline spilling close to a million gallons of Dilbit in July 2010. This Michigan disaster was the largest on-land spill in American history and has already cost more than a billion dollars in clean-up costs.
Amazingly, neither of these Dilbit pipeline spills would have been possible without the addition of Diluent in the form of Condensate. The Diluent was exported from the U.S. to Canada and back to Canada as Dilbit in a tragic cycle which greatly benefited the very companies which are principally responsible for these calamities. This is the untold story of where the Diluent poisons originated and how the responsible parties profited most from this dangerous and unnecessary trade.

Bitumen Toxicity
We have already demonstrated in Part 1 that solid, crude bitumen in the reservoir contains toxic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), hydrogen sulfide and heavy metals which are further released into the tar when it is steam heated.
In addition, Naphthenic Acids always found in Tar Sands, contaminate the water and are toxic to fish and amphibians. In humans and other mammals these acids may irritate the nose and throat and cause coughing and wheezing. However, Naphthenic Acids have not yet been tested for potential to cause cancer or reproductive impacts.

Diluted Bitumen Transport
The specific Dilbit which oozed into the Mayflower Arkansas neighborhood in March 2013 was called Wabasca Heavy which originated from the Tar Sands in the Wabasca Field area of Alberta, Canada. The map below shows the Wabasca Field area near the Wabasca lakes (NE Corner of map) as well as the Pembina pipeline (in yellow) which goes to Edmonton with chemicals such as polymers and solvents to make the Bitumen flow.
Exxon Reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that “before transport the dilbit is combined with corrosion additives such as Baker Hughes WAW 3049 water treatment additive [obsolete] which is also added by Mustang on its way to Patoka Illinois.”ii Other chemicals used in production and processing are considered proprietary and are kept secret.

Q9. What Are the Health Risks for People Who Live Near Tar Sands? Many

Figure 13 index Map of Fort Chipewyan and other Communities
So what impact do the elevated levels of toxins in the source areas described previously have on the populations living near and downstream of the Tar Sands fields? The remote First Nations community of Fort Chipewyan lies downstream of the Athabasca Tar Sands region along the Athabasca River and may provide a glimpse of some developing health problems in the region. 

Figure 14 Cancer Incidences in Fort Chipewyan and Other Communities

According to a 2009 report by the Alberta Cancer Board (see above), the overall cancer incidence in Fort Chipewyan for the decade from 1995-2005 was elevated and some malignancies were 30% higher than for the comparison communities in the province. This report supported claims by Dr. John O’Connor that residents of Fort Chipewyan had unusually high rates of blood, colon, bile-duct and liver cancer. Another extremely rare cancer of the bile duct, cholangiocarcinoma, has an expected incidence of only about 1 in 100,000. Yet this tiny village of 1100 people has already had 3 confirmed cases in the past decade alone.
Concerns have also been raised recently about the safety of the tailings waste ponds given the 2013 flooding and close proximity to the Athabasca River. A 2007 report on water quality at /fort Chipewyan by Timoney and Lee with Canadian Environmental organizations found the water in these ponds often contains, PAHs, mercury, arsenic and other toxics found in the bitumeni. The team reported elevated prevalence of renal failure, diabetes, lupus and hypertension which may be linked to toxics found in the tailings.ii The tailing ponds have also been shown to be leaking nearly 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater each day according to an Environmental Defense report.
Timoney and Lee followed their water study with a 2013 comprehensive study of Environmental Incidents in Northeastern Alberta’s Bitumen Sands Regioniii. This study compiles and analyzes a dataset of over 9000 environmental incidents that occurred between 1996 and 2012 which were attributed to the major bitumen operations in the lower Athabasca River region of Northeast Alberta. They found incidents related to air quality and air emissions were the most frequent, and comprised about 65 % of the
i Kelly, Erin N. David W. Schindler, Peter V. Hodson, Jeffrey W. Short,Roseanna Radmanovich,and Charlene C. Nielsen

Oil sands development contributes elements toxic at low concentrations to the Athabasca River and its tributaries

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 September 14; Published online 2010 August 30. doi:  10.1073/pnas.1008754107

ii Timoney, Kevin P, and Peter Lee. 2009. Does the Alberta Tar Sands Industry Pollute? The Scientific Evidence. The Open Conservation Biology Journal, 2009, 3, 65-81.

iii Timoney, Kevin and Peter Lee Treeline Ecological Research
Environmental Incidents in Northeastern Alberta’s Bitumen Sands Region, 1996 - 2012

total incidents. They also documented almost 1200 pipeline releases in the area over the same period.

Figure 15 Poster for Honor the Treaties Tour Jan 2014

Canadians are now waking up to the potential threats from the Tar Sands development in their country. In recent weeks environmentalist David Suzuki, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, and climate scientists have joined with rock star Neill Young to protest the sicknesses occurring near the Athabasca tar sands fields. Time will tell whether others will follow their lead but it is certain that as Tar Sands developments accelerate, environmental and health impacts will increase.

Q8. Can Wabasca Heavy Crude Be Identified By Its Fingerprint? Yes!

Fortunately, fingerprinting of the oil is still possible on the basis of GCMS (gas chromatography combined with mass spectrometry.) A chromatogram from Wabasca Heavy bitumen was provided to the EPA by the University of Calgary, Alberta (ESTS # 1346.1).

Figure 11 Chromatogram of Wabasca Heavy Bitumen

This Wabasca Bitumen reference standard sample reveals the following:i
The Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons of nearly 300 mg/g are about the same in the reference sample and the spilled oil sample indicating little change in overall oil content. However, due to the complexity of the bitumen in the sample there are few peaks of lighter molecules on the left hand side of the graph. This means there are essentially no simple, straight chains of carbon and hydrogen (normal alkanes) in the Wabasca heavy bitumen sample before it is mixed with condensate. According to the definition of bitumen in the region by Strauszii at the University of Alberta, this would have caused more bitumen to precipitate. In other words, simple hydrocarbon solvents are added as diluents at a later processing stage to make these tar sands flow great distances. These diluents and other additives must also be constantly balanced to keep the bitumen moving in solution. It is this tendency to precipitate bitumen in pipes which has historically slowed tar sands development and limited the number of refineries which can process it.
i Wang, Shendo 2013 Environment Canada for EPA
Oil Fingerprinting Analysis of Mayflower Spill Oil Samples
ESTS Report No. 2013-Rep04

ii University of Alberta: Calgary, AB., 2003
Strauss, O. P.; Lown, E. M., The Chemistry of Alberta Oil Sands, Bitumens, and Heavy Oils

The total target PAHS of the Wabasca heavy bitumen sample was under 2600 micrograms/gram or roughly one-third of the PAHS found in the spilled oil sample at Mayflower

Figure 12 PAHs in Wabasca Heavy Bitumen

As shown by the chart above, the most toxic PAHs, the so-called EPA Priority PAHs (54 micrograms/gram) in the bitumen sample were roughly 40% of the spilled oil sample including known carcinogens like Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP 2.72 microg/g).
Recent studies have shown that PAHs are elevated in sediments at the bottom of six lakes surrounding the Alberta tar sands. The PAH levels in lakes as far as 50 miles away are more than 20 times what they were in the 1960s.

Q7. How Can Wabasca Heavy Pollution Be Detected in Water? U-V!

Naphthenic Acids in process-affected waters in Canada are also well known to fluoresce at specific wavelengths even at low concentrations (10% process water) which can be used to determine the extent of NA contamination of water bodies.

Source: Ewanchuk 2010
These waters exhibit a characteristic peak in the UV-B range at 290 nanometers (nm) excitation and emit in the UV-A range at about 346 nm.i While this may sound complicated, it simply means that samples will glow like a beacon at a specific, measurable frequency when exposed to particular wavelength of ultraviolet light. Although this signature is unique to tar sands pollution and the detection methods are well-established, the EPA did not order fluorescence spectroscopy analysis of the original samples. Of course, Exxon has not revealed the results of any fluorescence analysis which might show that Lake Conway had been contaminated by tar sands oil.

i Ewanchuk, A.M., A.C. Ulrich, D. Sego, 2010 Parallel Factor Analysis of Process Affected Water

Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton

Q5. Are the Ingredients of Wabasca Heavy Crude Toxic? Yes!

Now let’s examine the chemical structure of Wabasca oil to understand why it is so toxic. Like most heavy hydrocarbons, the structure of this asphalt-like substance is similar to a strip of hexagonal chicken wire. It is made of a long chain-link fence of benzene-rings of 6 carbon atoms and hydrogen. These links become more difficult to break down (become more insoluble) and have higher boiling points as they get longer and heavier.

Figure 8 Hex Chicken Wire Analogy

Figure 9 Molecular Structure of Asphaltene
Source: RERI

These long chains are called asphaltenes which reportedly comprise about 15% of the Athabasca bitumens including Wabasca bitumen. They contain sulphur, vanadium, nickel and Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some of these PAHs are known or suspected cancer causing agents or carcinogens. Wabasca bitumen also contains about 1% nitrogen.
Research in late 2013 at Oregon State Universityi has shown that newly discovered nitrated PAHs (NPAHs when combined with nitrogen) can be hundreds of times more mutagenic than other known carcinogenic PAHs. This means they can frequently cause DNA damage in the cells on the salmonella assay which might indicate a higher cancer causing potential than other PAHs. These compounds are difficult to biodegrade because bacteria cannot easily assimilate asphaltenes and they are so recent identified that they haven’t yet been thoroughly studied in Athabasca tar sands.

Naphthenic Acids
When heavy hydrocarbon molecules come into contact with hot water or steam they can release corrosive Naphthenic Acids (NA). These acids are the principal contaminants in tar sands waters and are toxic to fish, amphibians and other organisms. 

Figure 10 NA Aquatic Toxicity

Young rainbow trout and crustaceans like Daphnia magna have been shown to be particularly sensitive to NA. Other sub-lethal effects of NA include changes in growth and reproduction as well as hormone disruption. Studies indicate that NA can remain in the environment for many years.
Human Health Concerns are addressed by the EPA Naphthenic Acid Screening Level Hazard Characterizationii sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute High Production Volume Program. They determined that “No adequate data are available to assess the repeated-dose, reproductive and developmental toxicity of the category members.” They did find that NA in SAP oil was “severely irritating to the rabbit eye and mice skin.” Furthermore, “No adequate data are available for acute toxicity to fish and aquatic invertebrates and toxicity to aquatic plants and chronic toxicity to fish and aquatic invertebrates.”
Naphthenic Acids are extremely complex containing hundreds of organic acid compounds which can be measured in a variety of ways. Crude oils routinely are classified according to Total Acid Number (TAN) which is a rough indication of Naphthenic Acid concentration. According to ESMAP, “The TAN of crude oils is an accepted measure of potential corrosivity: it quantifies the number of milligrams of potassium hydroxide (KOH) needed to neutralize one gram of sample crude oil. The acidity of a crude oil has important economic and technical impacts on refining operations. A TAN exceeding 1mg KOH/g is commonly considered corrosive; however corrosion problems can occur in crudes with TAN as low as 0.3 for several reasons including velocities and the nature of acidic species present.”iii
Wabasca Heavy has some of the highest TAN numbers in Canada ranking 6th out of 29 with a value generally exceeding 1mg KOH/g and a Crude monitor reading of 1.06 the week before the Mayflower spill. It also has high sulphur content (4.14%) which ranks 2nd highest among 29 crude oils from Canada.iv
i ECOWATCH/ Oregon State University | January 6, 2014
Newly Discovered Compounds Hundreds of Times More Toxic Than Known Carcinogens

ii EPA 2012 Screening Level Hazard Characterization for Naphthenic Acids

iii Bacon, Robert and Silvana Tordo 2005
Crude Oil Price Differentials and Differences in Oil Qualities: A Statistical Analysis
ESMAP TECHNICAL PAPER 081 Footnote 7 page 10

Q4. How Hot Was Wabasca Oil in the Reservoir? Room Temp!

As shown below, Wabasca (top yellow line) has one of the lowest reservoir temperatures (around 50 degrees F) and highest viscosities of all the comparable North American heavy oil fields. As the temperature is increased to boiling (the 100 degree C or 212 deg. F vertical line) or above in a steam flood or SAGD operation the viscosity drops from 5 million to less 1000 centipoise. At that temperature and above the bitumen oil will flow like motor oil.
If a pipeline leaks or breaks, the pressure and temperature will drop suddenly and the oil will tend to revert to its natural “hockey puck” statei. This graph also shows that Wabasca is more viscous at all equivalent temperatures than for example Cold Lake (in purple) which is reportedly the ultimate source of the oil spilled by Enbridge into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan on July 2010.ii Therefore, oil from Wabasca will always have a greater resistance to flow than the Enbridge spill making the tar sands more difficult to clean up on land. It also means that Exxon would require even more diluent and chemicals to keep it flowing than other companies.

ii Enbridge Energy 2011, Limited Partnership Line 6B Incident, Marshall, Michigan
Conceptual Site Model Prepared: November 30, 2010 Version 0


Steam Flood (SAGD)

Steam Flood (SAGD), the Wabasca Field area thermal recovery process works on the same simple principle as when your mother accidentally steam-ironed your clothes the time you left chocolate in your pocket. The bitumen (“chocolate”) melts and drips down into the production pipe below (“runs down your pants”.) This high pressured, in situ, thermal process may be at least partially responsible for the uncontrolled bitumen blow-out at Cold Lake which contaminated over 150 acres of water and forced the drainage of a polluted lake. This seemingly unstoppable 2013 Tar Sands leak in six months has exceeded 300,000 gals and “has probably contaminated groundwater” according to Alberta Environment officialsi. Another tar sands pollution event could occur again at any time from these very shallow, artificially pressurized, reservoirs due to a fracking-like process that is virtually unregulated.

 Figure 7 SAGD- Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage Production


All of these enhanced production methods are important because as they act on the bitumen to make it more mobile, they also begin to change the chemistry of the oil. The hot steam not only melts the bitumen, it brings it into contact with large amounts of water which releases acids and other toxic chemicals into the oil. Unfortunately, the chemistry of the Tar Sands is so complex (especially after combining with diluent) that few of these toxic chemicals (polymers, solvents and surfactants) are even recognized after a spill unless they are looked for specifically with the latest detection equipment. This is no consolation to residents like those near the Mayflower and Kalamazoo spills, who are often assured that the area is safe to occupy by people who don’t actually know what chemicals the tar sands oil contain. In many cases, first responders do not even know what chemicals they are actually dealing with which puts them at even greater risk than they normally are when responding to conventional oil spills.

i Pratt, Sheila, Edmonton Journal October 23, 2013
CNRL bitumen leak has likely contaminated groundwater, report says