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

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