Another “backyard” experiences the realities of moving fossil fuels around the nation, as illustrated below in Greenpeace photos of an oil covered North Dakota wheat field. Steve Jensen discovered the break in a Tesoro pipeline as he was harvesting wheat. He reported it on September 29, but it took nearly two weeks for the state to make a public announcement. Go to an earlier post here for details.
Estimates of the amount oil “spewing” up about 6 inches, as Jensen described what he found, have varied. Today the AP, via ABC News, reports:
Scientists who helped calculate oil spilled from a broken BP well into the Gulf of Mexico are questioning the methodology used to estimate the amount of crude that recently leaked from a ruptured pipeline into a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota.
Tesoro Corp. said it came up with its more than 20,000-barrel spill estimate using ground analysis. But oil spill experts say a more accurate assessment likely would come from calculating how much crude went into the pipeline versus what was supposed to come out at its terminus.
The area of contamination is about the “size of seven football fields,” and Tesoro first estimated the spill at about 750 barrels. That changed to about 20,600 barrels, or around 865,000 gallons, which makes it “one of the largest spills in North Dakota history.”
At Grist, Joe Smyth writes about the time it took from Jensen’s initial reporting to authorities to the first public acknowledgement. He also focuses on why Tesoro didn’t detect the leak even earlier.
Beyond concerns that the public was kept in the dark about the oil spill for so long, Tesoro’s apparent failure to detect a loss of pressure in the pipeline as it leaked over 20,000 barrels of oil ““ nearly a million gallons ““ is particularly troubling. …
Tesoro’s director of emergency response said the hole in the pipeline was a quarter inch in diameter and “˜may have been caused by corrosion,’ while the chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission said “˜It started out as a small hole and got bigger.’
Another in a growing list of “It happened in my backyard” stories from across the U.S.A.
(North Dakota pipeline spill photos by Greenpeace, used with permission. Credit: Neal Lauron/Greenpeace.)