Saturday, June 28, 2014

No. 10 -Friday Night Special - (Early and Urgent) Charles and David are panting for Pegasus, reopening Tuesday, July 1st.

Big Oil had worked hard and doubtless paid a lot of money to ensure the Pegasus Pipe Line is reopened.  Is it safe? 

There are many reasons why it is insane to accept the self-evaluation of Big Oil, and especially Charles and David Koch, on whether or not the Pegasus Pipe Line can be safely operated.

First, there is the issue of honesty.

Why would anyone believe the Kochs or their close associates when the Koch Method, the strategies which brought them all this success, include ensuring their employees lie, cheat and steal?

Horrifying and incredible as this sounds there is plenty of evidence to back it up.

An article in Bloomberg, titled, Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales, written by By Asjylyn Loder and David Evans, appearing October 3, 2011, included several instances which illustrate the enormous divide between what Charles, David, and other representatives of Koch say, versus how they operate within Koch Industries.

The article provided a statement from Phil Dubose, a Koch employee. Dubose, who testified against the company, saying he and his colleagues were shown by their managershow to steal and cheat -- using techniques they called the Koch Method. “

If they encourage these illegal acts it would be insane to trust anything said, either by them personally, or by any representative of Koch Industries or their associates.

Second, what we know about the age and fitness of Pegasus.

The Pegasus is over 60 years old. Both the materials of which pipe lines and people are made are subject to aging.You know, the joints start to give out along with the colon and bladder.  Things just start falling apart and leaking.  

I'm going to give you a visual on this so you will see the point. Visuals are really good things because we get the point so much faster. 

Here is the Pegasus Pipe Line when it was first build.  Shiny and new, its seams and joints would, hopefully,  withstand the pressure for which it was designed, just like the image below despite the daunting example of the Keystone Pipe Line which has already experienced leaks.

The young Pegasus Pipe Line
But as time passes, the body ages.  Those firm muscles, fast reactions, and stamina, especially stamina, decline until the smallest incident can leave the former athlete flat on their face or dependent on a cane for support, lest they break something important, or which they still hope is important.  

The Pegasus Pipe Line Today

There is no point denying it, now is there?

The Pegasus Pipe Line is not only past the age to receive Social Security, it has been forced to carry twice the pressure for which it was designed.  So it is hardly fair to expect there not to be....well, incidents.  The Pegasus might even need Depends to ensure a reasonable amount of security. 

Now, we will get into the kind of incident, very much like Mayflower, Arkansas, we can expect.  

Assume a spill about the size of the one which occurred in Mayflower, Arkansas taking place under the upscale subdivision of Pinewood Estates near Beaumont, Texas.  These homes were not built when the Pegasus went in over 60 years ago.  But they are there now, built right over the pipe line because Exxon does not want anyone to know where it is.  Security, you know.

Pinewood Index Maps

                                         Pegasus South Pipeline (in black) Index Map

As shown above, the Pegasus South leg of the pipeline is about 205 miles long and 20 inches in diameter built in 1954 (60 years old). Along this route we chose Pinewood Estates because the subdivision was built on top of the pipeline and the pipe crossing is exposed nearby at Little Pine Island Bayou. 

Section of Pegasus South Line Exposed at Pinewood Estates

These are the type of areas where old pipelines are most likely to break!

Pinewood Regional Map 

Ironically, Pinewood Estates is only about 5 miles east of the town of Sour Lake, the oldest surviving town in Hardin County, famous as the birthplace of Texaco and also home to one of the biggest sinkholes in Texas. Today, the Sour Lake oilfield is the oldest continuously-producing oil field in the world with hundreds if not thousands of wells drilled since the early 1900’s. 

 Oil derricks at Sour Lake, circa 1910

It also happens to sit on a large salt dome which makes the whole region somewhat unstable and susceptible to subsidence. This area is particularly risky after the withdrawal of nearly 100 million barrels of oil and untold hundreds of millions of barrels of water saltwater produced for operations and freshwater extracted for drinking. This was clearly not an ideal location for the Pegasus pipeline even 60 years ago.

                                                       Pinewood Estates Index Map

As shown above on the index map, Pinewood Estates was a designated census place in the 2010 census with a population of nearly 1700 people. Virtually none of these homes were built when the Pegasus went in over 60 years ago.  Most were not even there in 2005 (see Google Earth image below).

June 2005 - Earliest Color Image                                                        Feb. 2013 - Most Recent Image Avail.

Here, we look over Pinewood Estates from 2013, pretty much as it is today, compared to 2005 when only a few houses were built.
Below you can see the entire time sequence as the neighborhood developed over the pipeline from 2013 to 1989 when building had not yet started but the Pegasus Pipeline was, ominously, already lurking beneath the verdant fields.

Pinewood Estates Mayflower-sized Spill

Since 1989, Exxon and the Koch Brothers knew a housing development was growing over the Pegasus.  As experts in their own industry they knew the hazards associated with exposure to Hydrogen Sulfide, Toluene, and Benzene.  But they said nothing to the families who believed they were safe in the homes for which they had paid good money.   

No one in the industry had forgotten about the pipe line or its age.  Certainly, Charles Koch understands the impact of age on the human body and as an engineer, a graduate of M.I.T., he had to understand the impact of aging on pipes. As older pipelines are more likely to fail it is appropriate that we model the consequences of catastrophic failure in this area.

ALOHA is the system freely available which provides essential information in just minutes on how far the toxic chemicals from a spill will spread, as seen below.

As you look over these three images you can see why this information should be available to local HazMat Units and those living within the hazard zone.  Tough to do when the location of pipes is less important than the 'security' of Big Oil.  

The following series of maps show the extent of air pollution plumes in the first hour after a hypothetical pipeline break after reopening the Pegasus South leg. In addition, the calculated threat zone distances and Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs) for each substance are shown from the Aloha Emergency Planning models. The threat zones are shown for the toxic gasses hydrogen sulfide, benzene and toluene which were modeled based on a Mayflower-sized spill of roughly 200,000 gallons of Wabasca Heavy Tar Sands Oil. This seems like a reasonable estimate given that the 20” Pegasus Pipeline is capable of transporting more than 3.75 million barrels of Tar Sands per day.

Pinewood H2S Threat Zones

 Benzene Threat Zones

How many people will suffer immediately from the effects of these three potent toxic chemicals if, as is not unlikely, a break takes place along the Pegasus Pipeline under their homes?  
How many will suffer long-term medical problems which shorten their lives and the lives of their children?  

Too many.  Externalizing costs by irresponsible corporations, such as Koch Industries and Exxon, must stop NOW and below is a link to our solution.

Healing the Hazards
A Narrative

David Lincoln
Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Green Fields Renewal
July 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

No. 9 - Friday Night Special - Playing Chicken in Tornado Alley - Cushing, Oklahoma

Taxpayers have been subsidizing exercises for a possible terrorist attack in 2004 with exercises carried out by the FBI.  Why isn't this on the books of such corporations as Koch Industries as a business expense?  

You can ask, but they will never answer.

 Speak No Koch                             See No Koch                               Hear No Koch 

Possible explosions resulting from the very unlikely possibility of a terrorist attack were calculated by the FBI.  This included unexploded bombs, simulated hostage takings analyzed, handling injuries and looking around the tanks for suspicious persons.

Dozens of companies store about 50 million barrels of U.S. and Canadian oil in Cushing, a town of about 8,000 people.

Then, someone said, “ "Then somebody said, 'Hey, we're in Tornado Alley."  A significant pause followed.  

The biggest disasters are natural and you would think people as wealthy as the Kochs would know this. But then again, they probably do. Wichita, Kansas and Manhattan are a long piece from Cushing, Oklahoma, Ground Zero for Big Oil. And we really mean, 'Ground Zero.'

The people who live and work there, mostly for the oil companies, have gotten the message. Houses are on the market as people put distance between themselves and the potential for becoming so much meat on the grill.

So, what would happen to a community if a Kalamazoo-sized spill (1 million gallons) occurred at a critical junction of the KXL pipeline which has the capacity to transport 25 million gallons of oil per day?

Glad you asked.  That is a question we are prepared to answer. 

Cushing Oklahoma is known as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World” with the largest known tank farm anywhere. First, because the KXL pipeline already runs through it as shown by the purple line in the Google Earth image above. Second, because over 25 major pipelines intersect at this point and are shipping in or out oils and other fuels with a constant threat of fire of explosion.  More than 70 percent of the petroleum that’s shipped in the United States flows through the pipes that intersect here. This is best seen in the Bloomberg Illustration below which shows the pipelines and volumes at the Cushing oil hub. 

Oil Pipeline Flows In and Out of Cushing, Oklahoma

We have modeled the cloud of toxic Benzene which would immediately spread from a potential pipeline break in the first hour after a large spill from the KXL Pipeline in Cushing, Oklahoma 

(See the Aloha Model and colored Benzene threat zones in the Google Earth image below. 

 Possible Benzene Plume for a large

Tar Sands spill in Cushing Oklahoma
  (Got the High School!)

This plume would likely spread for nearly 2 miles blown by the wind and would likely engulf the local High School and half the city. The yellow confidence or uncertainty lines enclose the region within which, about 95 percent of the time, the gas cloud is expected to remain.
We have modeled parameters similar to conditions at the Kalamazoo River Tar Sands Spill in Michigan in 2010. We have also assumed a Cold Lake Blend of Tar Sands since this will be transported by the KXL pipeline and it was the major component of the Kalamazoo spill. 

Chemical Name: BENZENE
Wind: 5 miles/hour from S at 3 meters
     Red : 699 yards --- (4000 ppm = AEGL-3 [60 min])
     Orange: 1252 yards --- (800 ppm = AEGL-2 [60 min])
     Yellow: 1.8 miles --- (52 ppm = AEGL-1 [60 min])

Model: ALOHA Heavy Gas

Simultaneously, a poisonous plume of Hydrogen Sulfide would spread along the ground blanketing the town of around 8000 people across more than 6 miles (the limits of the Aloha model shown below).

H2S Possible Spill Scenario for a large

Tar Sands spill in Cushing Oklahoma

Later, there would be a repeat of the Kalamazoo River spill with the tar sands oil finding a route to the nearest stream or creek and contaminating the water over 10 miles downstream. The likely creek spill extent is shown in blue above.

Photo of a Tank Farm Terminal at Cushing, OK
Just imagine living here. 

Presumably the first responders are extremely well trained for an oil or tar sands spill, since the gigantic tank farm consists of more than 300 oil shipping and storage tanks with a capacity to store about 70 million barrels of hydrocarbons. Some terminals have published their action plans, so it is surprising that their emergency planning and response models have apparently not been made public.

 Google Earth Image of Cushing Tank Farm

In May 2013, just two weeks before a devastating tornado hit Moore Oklahoma, Cushing Emergency personnel conducted a drill based on an F-5 Tornado disaster scenario. The drill revealed that once communications are knocked out, the terminals are basically on their own for 24 to 36 hours until the National Guard can be fully mobilized. According to Cushing Fire Chief Chris Pixler, “At the initial tornado strike, we’re already out of resources,”
 And here is a map which shows which Petroleum Companies use Cushing.  All of our favorites, including Charles and David! 

This is not a good situation to be in under the best of circumstances.  For such a strategic and vital industrial complex which handles roughly 10% of the U.S. Crude Oil Inventory, it is unacceptable. If we can have forward military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, is it too much to ask to have National Guard troops as ready and prepared to protect our strategic assets and adjacent neighborhoods as we were to defend Iraqi oil fields and the gold in Fort Knox. Do we even know if there is enough respiratory equipment available for those who might not be able to immediately evacuate a large area?
Of course, Cushing itself won't need to worry about breathing for very long.  
The only possible solution is to plan for the worst case scenarios with realistic emergency response models now and begin mobilizing those resources in advance. 
Worst case scenarios must include the usual terrorist soft target and fire scenarios, as well as tornado and earthquake threats, but now must also involve total pipeline and tank failures and explosions. As we have learned since 2010, pipeline failures involving Tar Sands can be difficult to detect in time and can be devastating to surrounding communities since the condensate and diluent spread first. Too often evacuations come too late or are not extensive enough. 
Only by involving local community leaders in disaster planning and informing the residents about the real risks and emergency steps to be taken can we hope to minimize health and safety impacts.
Steps must be taken.  Step over here to read about that.  


Monday, June 16, 2014

No. 8 - Friday Night Special - Why the Kochs Don't Warn the Sheeple!

The First Hour

When the 'Koch Method' is used:

( Don't Warn the Sheeple!!!)

Two Toxic Events - Why Lying Pays for Big Oil 

In the first hour after a Toxic Event begins a torrent of toxins and poisons rush out of the broken pipe, dispersing into the local area. This conforms to a pattern which can be calculated.

Benzene, Toluene and Hydrogen Sulfide share these attributes, as we demonstrated in No. 7 – Friday Night Special, last week. These highly volatile and toxic chemicals impact both air and water and all living things they contact. This happens immediately both through breathing in Benzene and through contact with water, which has also been exposed.

In No. 8 we are focusing on how fast and widely Benzene is dispersed to show you what needs to happen to change the behavior of Big Oil.

Continuing to breathe Benzene, for which we present profiles for two incidents, using the higher amounts from the Kalamazoo Toxic Event to what took place in Mayflower, Arkansas you can see why knowing what left those pipes, and how much, matters.  The information must be available not years later, but within minutes. 

In a very short space of time breathing Benzene or the other toxic chemicals used by Big Oil can have permanent impact on people, leaving them with a heightened vulnerability to later exposure. 

But since this is carefully not documented by the companies responsible this provides a useful exit from accountability for them. We are going to show you how to close the exit.

Clear and reliable models for what will take place have been available for a long time.  Enforcing the use of these in real time is part of the solution.  

We produced the models below using open source software freely available through The Office of Response and Restoration.

Again, why is this this not being used and the information made immediately available to people at risk along the multitude of pipelines now in place across America?

Because folks like the Kochs know this would nail them big time. Accountability would cut into their profits. So, let's not hear any more talk about how well free markets work when those doing business can externalize their costs, forcing the consequences of their irresponsibility on others using asinine justifications of the 'public good.'   

This Libertarian says, “Hold the Kochs responsible instead of allowing them to evade disclosure by using honorable rhetoric as cover for criminally irresponsible behavior." 

We produced the simulation below, using the amount of the spill and what would have taken place if it had occurred in Mayflower, Arkansas to demonstrate what is possible. After you see this we'll tell you what needs to be done to stop the Big Oil in its tracks and make them accountable.

The two existing programs, ADIOS, (Automated Data Inquiry for Oil Spills), which provides models for how types of oil weather. This means how they undergo physical and chemical changes, in the marine environment. ALOHA, which you heard about in No. 7, exist.  Used together we calculated the distance and size of the threat zones for Benzene in the Kalamazoo Spill-size scenario.

This chart shows that the level of Benzene in the air after the Kalamazoo River spill begins at about 6 ppm, (parts per million). As you can see, most of the impact is felt in the first hour. We used ADIOS2 for calculating air dispersion and weathering of the type of Tar Sands spilled, Cold Lake Blend, during that critical period.
Working from a database of more than a thousand different crude oils and refined products, ADIOS quickly estimates the expected characteristics and behavior of spilled oil. It was designed for just this use.
Using the ADIOS model together with the previously described ALOHA model the extent and size of the threat zones for Benzene in the Kalamazoo Spill-sized scenario are clear. 

These programs make models available fast enough to be used in real time, providing alerts to the areas which are being impacted.   

As the graph below shows, the Benzene threat zone extends for more than 1.5 miles where the initial Benzene concentration in the air could be greater than 50 parts per million in the first hour.

Below is our simulation using the profile for the Kalamazoo River Tar Sands Spill in 2010 and the Toxic Event in Mayflower, Arkansas of 2013. 

Amount of Benzene Released

                                                                              Kalamazoo River, Michigan                                                                         
          July 26,2010
                                                                                                                                            PPM -  Parts Per Million

 Mayflower, AR
March 29, 2013

Distance Benzene Spread

Mayflower, AR 
March 29, 2013

Kalamazoo River
July 26, 2010

No. 9 - Which will be available in a few days, will show you what can happen when one of these Toxic Events takes place in a major population center along the KXL pipeline. 

The Elephant in the Room question which must be confronted is this.

What action do we, the people, take now?

  • Spills within these ranges are growing in frequency.
  • Big Oil has made it clear they take a psychopathic approach to the trauma and damage done to individuals.  They just do not care, not one bit.
  • Their failure to  factor these potential liabilities for doing business for any company, producing anything, become Standard Operating Procedure.

When it is clear you can only expect irresponsible behavior, you accept this as a fact and legislate accordingly. The problem must be solved.  There must be accountability.  

Healing the Hazards
A Narrative

Thursday, June 5, 2014

No 7 – Friday Night Special – How Close is Too Close?

If you can smell the chemical, the level is too high to be safe.”i

Last week we shared with you the facts about what chemicals gushed into the pristine air of Mayflower, Arkansas on March 29, 2013. This was one of the things you were not supposed to find out.

Remember what we told you about Benzene, which is highly carcinogenic, Toluene, a neurotoxin, and Hydrogen Sulfide, which is a potent poison, being the chemicals of choice used to force the Tar Sands through those pipes?

Now you know exposure to these for any length of time causes the victim to become sensitized to any and all future exposure. Smelling it AT ALL is too close.

And knowing full well what kind of chemicals were in those pipes Rex Tillerson and men like the Kochs withhold this information because What We Don't Know Can't Hurt Them! It only hurts us. 

Here is the Time Line for those first hours after the spill began.  

 And here are the kind of maps which the ALOHA system could have delivered to residents and HazMat units within minutes of the time the spill began.  

Original Spill







H2S Threat Zones 2 East Ditch

H2S Closeup East Ditch2

Toluene 2 East Ditch

Benzene 2 East Ditch



Est. size of spill at 5,000 barrels = 210,000 gallons of Dilbit

Measured 4.1 % H2S 

Measured 1.84 % of Dilbit is BTEX (April 14, 2013)

Est. 35% of Dilbit is Condensate

Measure 4.85% of 35% Condensate is BTEX ( Nov1. 1, 2013)

1% of Cond is Benzene 

Est. 35% of Dilbit is Condensate
Measure 4.85% of 35% Condensate is BTEX (Nov1. 1, 2013)

2% of Cond is Toluene

1% of Cond is Benzene

And now we have the answer to the question of why folks like the Kochs and Tex Tillerson don't want us to know what those pipes contain.  

Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services 2013 Benzene