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It's Time To Plug the Loopholes In Pipeline Regulation

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the slippery-laws dept.

Politics 163

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Congresswoman Janice Hahn writes in the Daily Breeze that thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled onto a residential street in Wilmington, California when an idle pipeline burst in a residential neighborhood, wreaking havoc on the lives of families who live in the community. "With a noxious smell and the sounds of jackhammers engulfing the community, the residential neighborhood turned into a toxic waste site in less than an hour," says Hahn. "The smell was nauseating and unbearable. Extensive drilling on the street is causing damage to driveways and even cracking tile flooring inside homes. Residents have seen their lawns die within a two-week span and they worry that the soil may be toxic. Several residents have suffered from eye irritation, nausea, headaches and dizziness due to the foul oil odor, including an elderly woman who has lived in Wilmington for more than 20 years." (More, below.)"The 10-inch pipeline is owned by Phillips 66, who initially said it was almost positive that the company was not to blame for the leak and declined to elaborate on why the unused 10-inch pipeline was filled with crude oil. Hahn says current loopholes in pipeline regulation are inexcusable and has called for a congressional hearing to examine regulations for pipeline safety and plans to introduce legislation that will specifically require that all abandoned or idle pipelines are routinely inspected. "The Wilmington community deserves answers and support from Phillips 66 and handing out gift cards and breakfast burritos to the residents is not in any way a substitute for transparency and accountability to the community," concludes Hahn. "This oil spill could have been prevented. With prudent oversight, we can make sure that the industries our communities rely on are also good neighbors and ensure that an incident like this never happens again.""

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163 comments

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Likely "squatters" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677139)

Unused pipelines sometimes get tapped between two places to transport illicit oil or other substances. Nobody ever checks in on abandoned resource assets so it's not that difficult to "squat" on them.

No problem! (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#46677145)

All the residents capable of retaining counsel and fighting a decade-long war of attrition with a superior force can simply achieve redress for this tort through the courts! (until we tort-reform that away). Any of the sickies who 'die' before 'the lawsuit even finishes 250,000 pages of discovery' clearly just didn't care enough about righting the wrongs done to them, so they probably deserve them.

Re:No problem! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677175)

Yea, because smelling oil for a few days has been known to cause mass extinctions. I wonder how many of the people on that street drive cars?

Re:No problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677225)

So it's ok to poison your water supply to the point of making you ill, simply because you drink water?

Re:No problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678381)

first question: which was there first, the pipeline or the subdivision?

second question: is anyone going after the developer of the subdivision?

Re:No problem! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 months ago | (#46677305)

So you won't have a problem if I dump a few hundred gallons of crude in your living roon.

Re:No problem! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677385)

I will have a problem with that. And I'll probably sue you. I probably *won't* die from "oil sickness".

Re:No problem! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#46677463)

This was crude oil, not the stuff you put in your car.

Re:No problem! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677737)

It was a crude analogy, not the stuff you put cars in.

Re:No problem! (1)

plover (150551) | about 4 months ago | (#46678689)

I award you one Internets for that joke!

Re:No problem! (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 4 months ago | (#46677767)

So you won't have a problem if I dump a few hundred gallons of crude in your living roon.

As long as I can leave my car idling in your bedroom. See? To much of anything can be bad.

Re:No problem! (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#46678335)

According to the LA Times "Phillips' crews would steam clean the street and that repairs would be completed in a week.". It's a very minor spill and short term inconvenience for a couple of dozen families. Oh, and it won't effect the decision to build the Keystone pipeline.

Re:No problem! (3, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 months ago | (#46677513)

I find it difficult to believe that the oil industry in California is under-regulated. And yet all those rules failed to stop this leak.

Re:No problem! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677647)

That's because you naively believe that California is effectively regulated.

The California electric crisis proved the lie in that, despite the number of people who mistakenly believed that it was due to power production being stymied by regulation, the reality was significantly due to deregulation.

Re:No problem! (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46677721)

The California power crises happened during the move from regulation to deregulation.

The system is running fine, now that the hangover from regulation has cleared.

The fact is that generation was underbuilt by the regulated system. The power pool rules were defective in that they didn't cap the market.

Players bet their companies on the first summer and were bailed out of their fuckup. But it was for the last time.

Re:No problem! (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 4 months ago | (#46677787)

...But it was for the last time.

Talk about naive...

Re:No problem! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46678041)

Do you have any idea how power pools work? It's a market now, like it or not. PG&E's service area is now shrinking in a long term unstoppable way. Watch for SF to pull their PUD out again. ;-)

Granting other parts of the nation haven't moved past rate base so there is still lots of regulator liability left in areas.

Re:No problem! (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 4 months ago | (#46678063)

All it would take is for a minor bubble and value crash to endanger a few of the big providers now, and half would get bail outs. You don't want the power market going out of business, do you?

Re:No problem! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46679021)

What? The market will not go out of business. Capital is relatively plentiful and there are many participants, many trying to geologically diversify. No economic plant will stay shutdown for long. The sooner uneconomic plants shutdown the better. That was the main point of power pools...

What you describe might happen in areas still under rate base. Fortunately most power pools have been running for a decade now (without the drama we saw in CA). Only areas where the 'local' power companies have so much power (cough, Southern Company, cough) that market based systems are being delayed is bankruptcy and bailout still a possibility.

Re:No problem! (4, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | about 4 months ago | (#46677795)

There was plenty of generating capacity.
The crisis was created by market manipulation by Enron and others. They were able to manipulate the market because it was DE-regulated.
Now that we have better regulations in place, the market is working better.
From Wikipedia:
California had an installed generating capacity of 45GW. At the time of the blackouts, demand was 28GW. A demand supply gap was created by energy companies, mainly Enron, to create an artificial shortage. Energy traders took power plants offline for maintenance in days of peak demand to increase the price.[9][10] Traders were thus able to sell power at premium prices, sometimes up to a factor of 20 times its normal value. Because the state government had a cap on retail electricity charges, this market manipulation squeezed the industry's revenue margins, causing the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and near bankruptcy of Southern California Edison in early 2001.[11]
The financial crisis was possible because of partial deregulation legislation instituted in 1996 by the California Legislature (AB 1890) and Governor Pete Wilson. Enron took advantage of this deregulation and was involved in economic withholding and inflated price bidding in California's spot markets.[12]
The crisis cost between $40 to $45 billion.[13]

Re:No problem! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46678001)

Many of the plants had been run for years without maintenance, were at the end of their lives and had just changed hands and in many cases crews.

Much of that installed capacity was not available as the system was _out of water_. Very dry hydro year.

This is exactly the kind of subject never to trust Wikipedia about.

Re:No problem! (3, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | about 4 months ago | (#46678231)

I should trust you?
The Wikipedia article has 36 references.
Where are your references for your theory?

Re:No problem! (4, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 4 months ago | (#46678119)

The system is running fine, now that the hangover from regulation has cleared.

The system is running fine, now that Enron is out of business and the top con men put in jail or (in the case of Lay) dead. (Not for defrauding the people of California-- that's not a crime-- but for defrauding their own company as well, resulting in crash of value of the stock.

Re:No problem! (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 months ago | (#46678617)

If one of the wealthiest and bluest states in the country - cannot effectively regulate itself, then perhaps the problem is that regulations don't actually work very well.

Re:No problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46679157)

That's some pretty unpersuasive reasoning there. A lack of effective regulations does not mean that regulations do not work, any more than a badly swung hammer means you can't drive nails with one that is properly used.

You might try establishing a better premise.

Re:No problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678515)

Why is it difficult to believe? We are spoonfed on the notion that the heart of politics, which sets regulation, requires compromise. And if you begin a debate over regulation with reasonable safety requirements and assume that anything that reduces profit is a "burden" to be born by industry (the libertarian/conservative mantra) then the million$ spent by business to hire lobbyists have only 1 goal. Lobbyists earn their fees by convincing legislators to reduce reasonable safety requirements based on a monetary scale where lobbyist's fees are the minimum necessary compromise necessary to justify the expense to the corporation.

I don't see any evidence that lobbying congress has slowed down or commands lesser 'investment' from industry, therefore I must conclude they are effective and the compromise becomes a cost born by the consumer through watered down regulation which results in unsafe, unhealthy conditions for the public and greater profit for indUStry.

Re:No problem! (0, Troll)

ffflala (793437) | about 4 months ago | (#46678741)

Have you ever actually looked up a single California state regulation? CCR Title 8, Division 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter 14 "Petroleum Safety Orders -- Drilling and Precaution" is comprised of a "whopping" 56 articles. http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/sub14.html [ca.gov] . Most of those articles are comprised of 1 to 3 sections (sections are the individual 'regulations'.)

Given how specific the equipment and services related to petroleum safety will necessarily be, that's... well it's actually not much regulation, AT ALL. Yet thanks to the tireless efforts of talking heads to plant into your head that (1) there are just too darn many regulations covering everything to the point that businesses can't operate, darnit, and (2) California is particularly over-regulated, you are part of millions of folks who simply guess, assume, and believe that over-regulation is actually a real thing, a real thing that is a problem.

First off, your guess is inaccurate. Secondly: even if overregulation *were* an actual, real, not-being-made-up problem, seems like some additional paper pushing is less grave a price to pay than putting up with negligent industrial accidents that destroy neighborhoods, either through toxic exposure, explosions, or both.

Easy fix: regulate the courts (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 4 months ago | (#46677831)

Here's an easy fix: regulate the courts. The courts must be dangerously under-regulated if they are as inefficient as you say.

Re:Easy fix: regulate the courts (0)

HiThere (15173) | about 4 months ago | (#46678205)

You are making assumptions about their goals.

The US legal system derives from the British which, since the Magna Charta, has been about ensuring that nobody who is powerful enough to overthrow the government wouldn't lose more than they would gain by doing so. So the courts attempt to provide a veneer of justice while actually finding in favor of those with the most power, including wealth as a form of power. They don't always do that, but that's always the way to bet. The problem is you don't always know all the players.

Please note: I believe that the Civil Rights movement was fostered by the Dixiecrats repeatedly flouting the desires of the Democratic party, and voting with the Republicans. That's not the way it looked on the ground, and there were easy justifications based around equity, and popular mores, but those had been ignored for nearly a century. OTOH, another factor was a bulge in the population in the early 20's, when people tend to act more idealistically and without fully counting costs. So it's not all for one reason.

Re:No problem! (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#46678715)

Did you even read the article? It appears they found the leak and contained most of it, not much was actually spilled. One backhoe digging a hole to fix the leak; cleanup will take a few days. Wouldn't effect the water supply or sewers.

Send them pizza (4, Informative)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 4 months ago | (#46677155)

After all, everyone knows that free pizza [newsweek.com] makes everything better after an event like this.

Re:Send them pizza (1)

lonOtter (3587393) | about 4 months ago | (#46677167)

Fecal frenzy mathematics?

food as payoff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677165)

It makes me think of a episode of the daily show that was last week where a company that screwed up a town due to fracking was paying off the inhabitants of the town with pizza.

Re:food as payoff (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677377)

Except that the town wasn't screwed up - a well outside of town was on fire for several days. One person (an employee) unfortunately did die. The payoff was for the noise and inconvenience not due to any contamination. Then, some ant-drilling group posted some petition showing that the residents were pissed off. The only problem? Nobody in the town had actually signed it. Here's the link: http://www.businessweek.com/ap... [businessweek.com] . You may want to read your news more critically and not jump on the internet's immediate "omg, evil corporation" crap that seems to fester immediately when some news comes up.

Re:food as payoff (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46677809)

Except that the town wasn't screwed up - a well outside of town was on fire for several days. One person (an employee) unfortunately did die.

A well on fire? That's happened before, there were complaints of a noxious smell for weeks before the Mexican town blew up.

Guadalajara, Mexico. Gasoline leaked into sewer pipes and vapours built up for weeks. When they ignited, the blasts killed 252 people
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1... [wikipedia.org]

Re:food as payoff (-1, Troll)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 4 months ago | (#46677859)

Except that the town wasn't screwed up - a well outside of town was on fire for several days. One person (an employee) unfortunately did die. The payoff was for the noise and inconvenience not due to any contamination. Then, some ant-drilling group posted some petition showing that the residents were pissed off. The only problem? Nobody in the town had actually signed it. Here's the link: http://www.businessweek.com/ap... [businessweek.com] . You may want to read your news more critically and not jump on the internet's immediate "omg, evil corporation" crap that seems to fester immediately when some news comes up.

I wish you had not posed this AC. The moderators may miss a very good and informative post. But, it does not support the mantra of "Oil Bad, Green Good" so they may have modded it "-1 Attacks My World View."

Money money money (2)

pla (258480) | about 4 months ago | (#46677177)

Why don't pipelines like that have passive shutoff valves every hundred feet or so, such that if the pipeline suddenly looses pressure, the valve closes and no more oil can escape than already made it into that section?

We've had those for water pipes in our homes for decades to keep the house from flooding in case of a burst. And filling your basement with water does a hell of a lot less damage than filling your basement with crude.

Of course, we all already know the answer to that. The same answer GM didn't give congress last week; the same answer we always have when talking about health and safety tradeoffs: Money.

Re:Money money money (0)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#46677201)

For the same reason we don't put firewalls after 100 feet of network cabling. It's expensive and likely to _create_ more failures than it prevents.

Re:Money money money (2, Informative)

pla (258480) | about 4 months ago | (#46677337)

For the same reason we don't put firewalls after 100 feet of network cabling. It's expensive and likely to _create_ more failures than it prevents.

Great analogy, because just like water or crude, bits on the wire leak out when a failure occurs and make a mess of everything around them. Man, I'll never forget the sticky mess I found myself in when a backhoe came through the top wall of the server room and took out a densely packed cabling tray. Bits up to my waist within minutes, just awful. ;)

Ironically, though, your answer does more to promote the idea than discredit it - Because, we do put routers between network segments and firewalls at each end-point, and no more fine-grained points of (virtual) compromise really exist.

Backhoes notwithstanding.

Re:Money money money (2)

cavreader (1903280) | about 4 months ago | (#46677589)

There are already pressure meters, flow rate monitors, gravity meters, automatic shutdown valves. Every origination station, booster station, tank farm, delivery station, and pumping station monitors their assigned segments while simultaneously passing all the monitoring data back to a centralized pipeline control center. However these precautions cannot stop at least some product from being released into the environment if the actual pipeline is ruptured.

Re:Money money money (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#46677783)

Please go back and read what you wrote:

                          Why don't pipelines like that have passive shutoff valves every hundred feet or s

I answered your actual question. Now, you' seem to be mocking it, based on how my answer does not apply to a question you did not ask, mainly:

                            Because, we do put routers between network segments and firewalls at each end-point, and no more fine-grained points of (virtual) compromise really exist.

Yes, we do. But "every 100 feet" on a 10 inch pipe is not at every _endpoint_, it's at every _connection_. And that's a full pipeline cut-off valve. It has to be able to stop the full pressure behind a 10" pipe. Given a typical pipeline pressure of roughly 125 PSI according to notes in Wikileaks, that means that the cutoff has to maintain a good seal with 124 * 3.14 * 5 * 5, or about 9000 pounds. That is not a cheap valve.

Re:Money money money (1)

pla (258480) | about 4 months ago | (#46678285)

I answered your actual question. Now, you' seem to be mocking it, based on how my answer does not apply to a question you did not ask

Fair enough. I should not have mocked your answer, and I apologize for doing so.

I thought it clear, though (from my subject, if nothing else), that I asked my original question rhetorically. I simply don't find that even remotely an acceptable answer.

Re:Money money money (1)

letherial (1302031) | about 4 months ago | (#46677489)

Thats a really really bad analogy, do you know what a firewall is? do you understand the difference between a logical network and err pipes....cause its a world of difference.

Networking systems do have shutoff valves at critical places to stop the flow of bad information before it causes critical damage (at least a decent secure setup, it certainly can be done without great expense). In 20 years the tech industry has done more to protect information then the oil company's have done to protect their oil in 80.

Follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677893)

Nobody upgrades old systems unless it's going to generate new revenue or an increase in revenue. "Today's enterprise" is dramatically different than 1998. There are actually firewalls at nearly each segment enforcing rules and very specific flows of traffic.

In the technology world "pipe" upgrades and system upgrades are consistent because every 3 to 5 years old systems are replaced with new systems that have much higher throughput capabilities, leverage the same shelf space to handle more workload, in many cases leveraging a similar power and cooling requirement. This makes good business sense to a company.

I would imagine that the oil industry would replace old systems in a heart beat if they were able to get "more revenue" from an old well with brand spanking new technology. Until then, I wouldn't imagine they would change anything, as long as they don't have to. It doesn't make sense to spend money to get the same amount of oil in a day, or change out the systems of an old well with little to no more oil left in it.

Re:Money money money (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#46677293)

Why don't pipelines like that have passive shutoff valves every hundred feet or so,

Because we live in a world of finite resources. This would be prohibitively expensive. If we want to spend money to improve the world, this would be one of the least effective ways to do it. Accidents happen, and no finite amount of spending is going to stop them all. This was one incident. No one was killed or injured beyond some nausea. Anyone exposed to the oil, or with property damage, will be compensated. Without more information, I would not conclude that either more safety equipment or more regulation is needed.

Re:Money money money (1, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 4 months ago | (#46677405)

Anyone exposed to the oil, or with property damage, will be compensated.

"Home" does not count as fungible.

The value to me of the place I've chosen to settle down far exceeds its market value. Yeah, great, they destroyed some houses and will pay for them plus a few grand extra as a "nuisance" fee; except they didn't destroy "some houses", they destroyed a neighborhood.

You can't just pay me off for my sunny spot on the back deck where the light hits just so, filtered between my favorite trees. You can't just pay me off for the trails I've made in the woods behind my house, or all the time I've spent learning those woods and enjoying them. You can't just pay me off for the squirrels I've trained to take peanuts right from my hand while sitting in that aforementioned favorite sunny spot. You can't just pay me off for needing to move away from my neighbor who I consider a close friend, or pay off his kids who love coming over to play with the cat.

Now... I would agree with you completely if the issue at hand involved individual property owners voluntarily selling a right of way across their yard to random oil companies, knowing that an accident could eventually occur. Except it doesn't work like that, and that explains why we hold these parasites to a higher standard of safety. They apply to the government for permission to steal that right of way for a pittance under eminent domain, they dot all their "i"s and cross all their "t"s to have the right people look the other way... And then they expect us to just live in the shadow of their stellar record of safety and caring about the environment?

FUCK THAT. They can damned well pay to put in pressure shutoffs every hundred feet.

Re:Money money money (1)

rnturn (11092) | about 4 months ago | (#46677649)

Just consider the amount of money that will be required to excavate one of the homeowner's lawn to remove the contaminated soil, replace the soil, grade it properly, and replant the grass. That could easily exceed $10K/lawn. And they're offering the homeowners a breakfast burrito and a few bucks for their trouble?

This is the third pipeline leak that I've heard of in as many (or fewer) weeks. Just where is the pipeline safety track record that these industry spokesweasels refer to?

On a somewhat-related note (well, "oil + pipelines" so close enough): Imagine what sort of damage will be done by a leak of the proposed oil sands pipeline if that corrosive gunk finds its way into the aquifer used by the majority of the Midwest and the huge amount of farming that occurs there. A leak of that proposed pipeline would cause damage that could never be repaired. Plus say goodbye to a good chunk of the food supply when that water is unusable.

Re:Money money money (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 4 months ago | (#46677941)

On a somewhat-related note (well, "oil + pipelines" so close enough): Imagine what sort of damage will be done by a leak of the proposed oil sands pipeline if that corrosive gunk finds its way into the aquifer used by the majority of the Midwest and the huge amount of farming that occurs there

So you'd rather people continue to die every year [reuters.com] in oil train crashes? You don't have to "imagine" the train crash that killed 47 people in Quebec [wikipedia.org] last summer.

Re:Money money money (2)

dentin (2175) | about 4 months ago | (#46678997)

"Home" does not count as fungible.

Yes, it is. What you meant to say was, "I find it unlikely that anyone would offer me what I consider my home and experiences to be worth."

You can't just pay me off for my sunny spot on the back deck where the light hits just so, filtered between my favorite trees. You can't just pay me off for the trails I've made in the woods behind my house, or all the time I've spent learning those woods and enjoying them. You can't just pay me off for the squirrels I've trained to take peanuts right from my hand while sitting in that aforementioned favorite sunny spot. You can't just pay me off for needing to move away from my neighbor who I consider a close friend, or pay off his kids who love coming over to play with the cat.

I might not be able to, but there exist people who can.

Please be more clear with your wording in the future. Blatant trolling like the above does no-one any good.

Re:Money money money (4, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 4 months ago | (#46677945)

Why don't pipelines like that have passive shutoff valves every hundred feet or so, such that if the pipeline suddenly looses pressure, the valve closes and no more oil can escape than already made it into that section?

Because several miles of crude oil flowing at 10 miles an hour has a lot of mass. Suddenly closing a valve would be like suddenly popping up a wall in front of a train. The oil would not just stop, but find a catastrophic and explosive new path. No, not money. Physics.

As to the money thing... Why is that considered so unimportant? More people die of a lack of money than any other thing on earth... People who say "It's only money" must have never gone to sleep (sleep, not bed as homeless don't have beds) hungry.

Re:Money money money (1)

t0rkm3 (666910) | about 4 months ago | (#46678645)

Given that the spill was 1200 gallons... I may have seriously botched the math, but I think that equates to about 145m of pipeline. Given that the company manages 15000miles of pipeline, 145m between shut-off measures sounds pretty good.

It's not pretty for the neighborhood, but it really is small potatoes.

Stop Pretending... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677191)

...that the current state of regulation is some kind of mistake or oversight. Never attribute to incompetence that which can be sufficiently explained by political corruption (which is not the same as malice - it's merely self interest and indifference towards others, i.e. systematized psychopathy).

The current state of the regulations is what is intended, and only because they cannot get away with more. The board of Phillips is insulated from their actions (to not maximize safety) both from below (employee layer) and from above (corporate veil). No matter how big a spill they make and no matter what the degree of gross negligence, the worst that can possibly happen is that Phillips gets their profits reduced on a one-time basis. Nobody will ever see jail time, and this is the system working exactly as intended.

The regulators who go easy on Phillips will be offered fat-cat industry positions when the episode is over, and everybody knows it. A spill is now a payday for regulators involved. They're probably tripping over each other to get assigned to the matter. Heck, we'll probably eventually get a leak about some regulator causing a spill just so he can get a better job - because why not? That's how the incentives are aligned; that's how the current government is architected.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture

Re:Stop Pretending... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677423)

I was with you up until you wrote "architected"...

Re:Stop Pretending... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 months ago | (#46677439)

No matter how big a spill they make and no matter what the degree of gross negligence, the worst that can possibly happen is that Phillips gets their profits reduced on a one-time basis. Nobody will ever see jail time, and this is the system working exactly as intended.

Your post reads like speculation based on reading too many conspiracy sites (don't worry, I attribute it to political corruption, not incompetence). I don't know if anyone deserves jailtime for this particular pipeline problem, but criminal charges do happen [sfgate.com] .

What's a spill... (0)

amightywind (691887) | about 4 months ago | (#46677213)

What's a little oil spill against progress. I have made a mint with my oil and gas stocks in the last 5 years.

Mismanagement (4, Insightful)

kheldan (1460303) | about 4 months ago | (#46677267)

Totally out of left field, but what can I say, my mind makes weird-sounding connections sometimes, so just hang with it for a minute..

Crude oil is nasty stuff. Nobody is arguing that point. But while people complain about that (and this case in particular, and rightly so), they're complaining about it on their computers, or on their phones, both of which have high-end semiconductor devices and batteries in them that required even more noxious, toxic, dangerous chemicals to produce -- but nobody is complaining about their phones, or computers, or their nice quiet hybrid or 100% electric car, now are they? A modern bicycle contains components that required some sort of nasty chemicals and processes to produce, but nobody thinks about that, do they? Even shoes, used to for walking of all things, the most 'green' of all transportation devices, requires some rather nauseating chemicals to produce the synthetic rubber and other synthetic materials in them.

My point here is this: Mismanagement is the problem. It's like the old argument: 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people'. Gun control advocates give you a dirty look when they hear this, but it's 100% true, now isn't it? Should we continue to transition away from fossil fuels like petroleum and coal? Absolutely! But don't forget that it's humans' management (or the lack thereof) that ends up causing many of the disasterous problems (like in this news story!) and not what's being managed.

What I'm finally leading up to is this: Things like nuclear power (which, in one form or another, whether it's fission or fusion) are, in and of themselves, not evil; it's the mismanagement of it in the past that's left the nasty taste in people's mouths and the lasting negative sentiments in their minds. If we, as a civilization, had been more thoughtful and careful with our technology, maybe this little disasters in the Los Angeles area wouldn't have happened in the first place.

Seriously, human race: It's time to grow up and start learning to put aside the base desires for power and money where the public interest is concerned and think more about what's good for our collective civilzation over the long run.

Re:Mismanagement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677349)

Well the problem is sentiments like yours (and many others) aren't NEARLY as influential on civilization as those of corporations with billions of dollars.

Re:Mismanagement (3, Funny)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about 4 months ago | (#46677577)

Seriously, human race: It's time to grow up and start learning to put aside the base desires for power and money where the public interest is concerned and think more about what's good for our collective civilzation over the long run.

Welcome to Earth; I see you've just arrived!

Elderly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677279)

"... including an elderly woman who has lived in Wilmington for more than 20 years."

Woohoo, twenty whole years. What exactly does elderly have to do with anything? I'm not elderly, but I've lived 'here' for 20 years, that doesn't get _me_ much of anything.

Not to be dismissive of any of the symptoms that everyone is suffering from, but in another 20 years I'll be I'll be elderly too. If I stay where I am right not, that'll be _forty_ years. If history is any indication, by then, that and $25 will get me a cup of coffee at McDonalds. And FWIW, I'm already old enough to join AARP.

Re:Elderly? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 months ago | (#46677317)

"Not to be dismissive"... And now I'll be dismissive.

Re:Elderly? (1)

RandomFactor (22447) | about 4 months ago | (#46677725)

...of any of the symptoms that everyone is suffering from,

Not of that he wasn't.

It's not bad just because some special group got sick (elderly in this case). It was bad because people were sickened.

Re:Elderly? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#46677535)

Because elderly people are more likely to not be able to do a DIY move? Because everyone but the courts seems to understand that there is value in a familiatr place just because it is familiar?

Re:Elderly? (1)

rnturn (11092) | about 4 months ago | (#46677887)

``Because everyone but the courts seems to understand that there is value in a familiatr place just because it is familiar''

The homeowners will likely do well in the lower courts where their peers will likely see things in the same light as the victims. Unfortunately, once the appeals begin, the homeowners no longer have access to juries of their peers. If it gets all the ways to the Supremes, well, the results are heavily skewed in favor of the corporations. Something like 80+% of all cases are found in favor of corporations.

Solutions? Perhaps eliminating being able to appeal a court decision because you don't like the size of the monetary damages. Appeals need to be about -- and only about -- actual misuse of the law or blatant mistakes in the court proceedings, etc. And you get one appeal; no more. Of course, bringing back the corporate death penalty would do wonders to improve corporate behavior so that these incidents might be fewer and farther between. Of course, IANAL so I can't predict whether any of this is possible but something tells me that none of this would ever happen as it would serve to reduce the number of legal proceedings and all the billing that those bring. The laws seem to be written to benefit lawyers not the average person.

Ban automobiles! Make gas cost $20 gallon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677285)

That will fix everything! I'm sure the cost of food won't rise either and it won't have any effect on the economy.

Slashdot used to be tech oriented. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677331)

Posts like this is why I don't bother with Slashdot anymore. HuffPo seems fair and balanced compared to the tripe that gets greenlit.

Re:Slashdot used to be tech oriented. (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46677675)

Posts like this is why I don't bother with Slashdot anymore. HuffPo seems fair and balanced compared to the tripe that gets greenlit.

Ah yes HuffPro, before my New HDTV it was the only place I can get a TV listing for this area. http://tvlistings.aol.com/ [aol.com]

No need for pipelines. (1)

Kernel Kurtz (182424) | about 4 months ago | (#46677339)

They can use trains instead...

Re:No need for pipelines. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677397)

They can use trains instead...

No, you cannot, as long as you don't have tracks that are no longer in use. The company was using a discontinued pipeline as toxic waste disposal. The equivalent would be putting toxic waste in trains on discontinued tracks. But that's more conspicuous.

Was the precious oil saved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677343)

Who gives a shit about that crappy town - they should be charged for recieving that free oil!

The good ol' days (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 4 months ago | (#46677363)

An incident in the book Early California Oil comes to mind here: after a sale of an oil tanker truck the two parties realized they weren't sure what to do with the contents of the truck - the buyer had no use for the oil. The seller thus simply emptied all the oil onto the street! The Wilmington oil field is also the poster child for oil extraction causing massive ground subsidence. [saveballona.org] Regulations were more than a bit lax back when. Occasionally people in SOCAL have to deal with this legacy - there was an explosion in a store in the 80s caused by a gas leak from a shoddy drilling operation, for instance. But generally things run relatively smoothly.

Re:The good ol' days (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46677781)

Because if I buy a tanker unexpectedly full of a valuable commodity I just dump it on the street.

I'd suspect a hippie with an agenda making up 'facts' for his book.

Re:The good ol' days (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 4 months ago | (#46678675)

Actually it's a warts-and-all trip down memory lane: Early California Oil: A Photographic History, 1865-1940. [google.com] Lots of warts to put it mildly, dumping the tanker is just one that sticks out in my mind. Oil companies used to overdrill fields as a matter of course, another memorable photo is of a couple of cottages separated by only 20 feet or so, with a derrick in between them.

shut the socialists up!! (0, Flamebait)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 4 months ago | (#46677367)

THe residents need to stop spewing anti corporate left wing radical stuff. We tried fascism before with the soviet union.

I prefer freedom instead thank you very much!

The market will take care of this only if we do not do anything. In a free market without government regulation none of these things would EVER happen.

Re:shut the socialists up!! (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46677487)

You forgot your <sarcasm> tags.

In a free market without government regulation

One of those evil government regulations is the one that keeps me and my buddies from relieving you of all of your hard earned wealth at the point of a gun.

Re:shut the socialists up!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677539)

>The market will take care of this only if we do not do anything. In a free market without government regulation none of these things would EVER happen.

You're actually right, regulation is what provides them with the right to pollute, so long as it's to the maximum regulated.

In a free market (not a lawless free market, but a truly free market without cronyism that buys such bullshit laws) once once of oil spilled would be met successfully with a lawsuit, in a court that (once again, without cronyism) is seeking the truth.

The more socialist, the more regulations. The penultimate end of socialism is communism, where you won't even be able to sue, because the government and the corporations are one, and are protected by sovereign immunity.

Re:shut the socialists up!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677567)

Stop being fatuous. The Soviet Union wasn't fascist, it was Communist, which is the polar opposite of fascism. Why do you think these two competing ideologies had a war?

I get the idea you hate properly regulated free markets. Why could that be? Who taught you that? Apply critical thinking. Why did this person teach you this, and what was her benefit?

Re:shut the socialists up!! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46677653)

They had a war over who would be in charge of the workers paradise. I don't think you know what 'polar opposite' means.

Re:shut the socialists up!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678917)

The diametrical opposite. Or the antipodal. For example, the polar opposite of the North Pole is the South Pole.

You can argue over the accuracy of the claim(and they certainly seemed to have missed the sarcasm in Billy Gates's post), but the meaning as used is correctly understood.

Re:shut the socialists up!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678579)

Stop being fatuous. The Soviet Union wasn't fascist, it was Communist, which is the polar opposite of fascism. Why do you think these two competing ideologies had a war?

Hitler was a greedy warmongering bastard who hated the traditional enemies of Germany and figured under his leadership that once and for all, the true Reich would prevail.

Really, he wrote it out for all to read.

Gotta stop GHE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677549)

Where's AL GORE?

We need to STOP GLOBAL HYDROCARBON EXTRACTION (STOP! GHE).

Al knows that's the only true solution to global warming, Stop! GHE.

But instead they just want to jack up taxes, I wonder why?

Baba Booey!

end run attempt at gun control (0)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46677645)

TIC

Idle pipelines are great targets for Ruger 10/22's (rifles), They meet the requirements of a great target; you shoot it and you get an indication of a hit. Not as good as blasting caps but a pipeline will do in a pinch.

Re:end run attempt at gun control (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46677749)

I encourage you to shoot 22s at thick pieces of steel. Stand nice an close so you don't miss.

Re:end run attempt at gun control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678277)

I encourage you to shoot 22s at thick pieces of steel. Stand nice an close so you don't miss.

Give him a break: a 10/22 is considered heavy weaponry in Canada. SUPPRESSING FIRE!

Number of people affected less than 20 (0)

Kohath (38547) | about 4 months ago | (#46677773)

Why do we need national regulations to deal with a small local problem that affects only a few people?

Is it because you have a personal hatred for one of the parties involved? Is it because you will personally gain from the regulation? Or is it because you think everything in the world needs a regulatory hand guiding it -- a government hand, with armed enforcers to punish anyone who gets out of line? Which is it?

Re:Number of people affected less than 20 (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677905)

Are you really that naive that you think that only this single company was neglecting safety measures only in this single area?

Re:Number of people affected less than 20 (1, Flamebait)

Kohath (38547) | about 4 months ago | (#46678025)

What's the point? Either there are lots of problems all over and therefore we need to think about regulation, or not. This story is about one incident. It does not indicate lots of problems. It does not counter-indicate lots of problems either. If there is data to indicate widespread problems, post the data.

Stop pretending to have knowledge. Either post it or admit you don't know.

Pipeline ruptures are extremely common. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678341)

Here's a list of nearly 300 that have happened since 2000 in the United States. That's just in the new milleneum, involving all kinds of petroleum products. [wikipedia.org]

 

Either there are lots of problems all over and therefore we need to think about regulation, or not. This story is about one incident. It does not indicate lots of problems.

  Oh yes, there's lots of problems with our pipelines. Whether more regulation is necessary, that's not my place to say. But there isan issue in how petroleum products are piped around our country. Accidents happen, like car crashes happen all the time in the vehicle pipelines we call freeways. But we have to continue to work at solving them - to ignore these problems and say "oh well" is not an option.

Be careful what you wish for (5, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46677821)

Prior to the Olympic Pipeline explosion [wikipedia.org] in Bellingham, Washington, gasoline was always cheaper there than in other parts of the state. After the imposition of a $112 million settlement on the pipeline owners, the local price of gas jumped above the state average. And it will remain there until the companies have recouped that penalty several times over.

Companies don't pay fines. The plebes do.

Re:Be careful what you wish for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678339)

It should be illegal (and it probably is...) to pull that stunt. A damage settlement is supposed to hurt the party guilty of the Tort.

Re:Be careful what you wish for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678649)

Cormernust!

Re:Be careful what you wish for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678665)

Prior to the Olympic Pipeline explosion [wikipedia.org] in Bellingham, Washington, gasoline was always cheaper there than in other parts of the state. After the imposition of a $112 million settlement on the pipeline owners, the local price of gas jumped above the state average. And it will remain there until the companies have recouped that penalty several times over.

You have no idea what you're talking about. The pipeline in question runs from Blaine WA to terminals in Seattle (110 miles away) and Portland (290 miles away). The passing of the $112M settlement to consumers would NOT affect retail gasoline prices in Bellingham more than anywhere else in WA or OR. If gas prices in Bellingham and surrounding areas went up more than the WA state average, it was due to some other factor.

Companies don't pay fines. The plebes do.

OK, you got that part right.

Why are the residents there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46677827)

Why the fuck weren't they evacuated?

It's just 70 gallons of crude oil (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#46677911)

It's just 70 gallons of crude oil left in an unused pipeline. No fire. No explosion. Just a mess.

It's not like a few years ago, when a high pressure gas pipeline exploded in Daly City and took out a small subdivision. Now that was a serious problem and an indication of a worse one. The column of smoke was visible 20 miles away. The state of California made PG&E do hydrostatic testing on all their major gas pipelines, over PG&E's claims that it was unnecessary. During hydrostatic testing with water, there were two pipeline bursts. One caused a landslide that blocked parts of I-280 at Woodside CA. No fire, of course; just water and mud, since this happened during testing.

Re:It's just 70 gallons of crude oil (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 4 months ago | (#46678069)

The LA Times story [latimes.com] says 1200 gallons. "Thousands of gallons" is a big exaggeration that is probably intended to mislead people. But it's more than 70 gallons.

Re:It's just 70 gallons of crude oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678837)

It's over 2000 gallons if you do the math. So both of you are wrong.

Re:It's just 70 gallons of crude oil (3, Informative)

Khashishi (775369) | about 4 months ago | (#46678503)

TFA says 70 barrels, not gallons. A barrel is 31.5 gallons.

Re:It's just 70 gallons of crude oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46679085)

The opinion piece says it was 70 BARRELS of oil, not gallons. A barrel for petroleum is 42 US gallons which works out as 2,940 gallons.

Re:It's just 70 gallons of crude oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46679101)

But considering one drop can ruin over a thousand gallons of water the 70 gallons you so easily dismiss can, and probably will, destroy over four million gallons of fresh water. Considering CA is already in a drought, this spill will destroy millions of dollars worth of agriculture and kill hundreds of people. Why do you Bush supporters not understand the horror of what you do? Dumping crude oil into irrigation water is horrific. You people need to be put in prison to stop you from doing this.

Incentive to fix problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46678137)

The problem now is that companies have no incentive to fix the problem. Fines are minimal, and a court fight can drag out for years. First, we must make the company or companies pay all costs of cleanup, including establishing families in new homes if necessary. On top of those costs there needs to be a hefty fine so companies have an incentive to design for safety from the start.

Finally, and this is the most important, the top executives for these companies should be forced to live in these areas until the problem is fixed and live as most of the residents in terms of drinking water, air filtering, etc. Forcing top executives to live in areas where they have caused problems would be a powerful incentive for them to fix the problem.

Little did they know (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#46678459)

Those toxic polluters in government actually made their STREETS themselves out of extra-thick oil.
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