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Has Exxon Mobil Tried to Cover Up the Truth at Arkansas Oil Spill?

By Joao Peixe | Wed, 17 April 2013 21:45 | 3

It was two weeks ago that Exxon Mobil’s (NYSE: XOM) Pegasus pipeline ruptured, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the town of Mayflower, Arkansas, and I think it is about time that someone called it what it is … a grade A f**k-up!

Contaminated water has leaked into Lake Conway, local residents have fallen ill from the toxic fumes, lawsuits have been filed, a severe thunderstorm in the area caused complications with the clean-up efforts, and to top this off, in an attempt to keep all of this quiet Exxon Mobil has tried to intimidate the local media and block coverage.

The latest detail that has intrigued the media is the revelation that the break in the pipe was 22 feet long, not a small, innocent, rupture then. A 22 foot rupture suggests a huge amount of pressure within the pipe, which then raises new questions about the cause of the spill.

Related article: Exxon Oil Spill in Arkansas, Keystone Spoiler?

Attorney General McDaniel told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC; “I think when people found out that there was a rupture and there was a 65-year-old pipeline, I think that almost everybody assumed that there was some small crack due to age. The rupture was 22 feet long. Twenty-two feet is not something one would think would happen gradually. So now we’re starting to ask all new questions.”

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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  • Sam Blankenship on April 20 2013 said:
    Pipeline integrity is related to hydraulic fracking in the vicinity of the pipelines.

    Note that earthquakes in Arkansas and Oklahoma due to fracking have increased from single digit numbers to incidents in the thousands as reported in the April-May, 2013, issue of Mother Jones Magazine.

    Earthquakes due to fracking must now be factored into pipeline safety.
  • Rob Marquand on April 18 2013 said:
    I sent this to Exxon/Mobil through their blog page 5 days ago and have not received an answer:

    I am a retired Petroleum Engineer, and I am very concerned about some of the things I’ve read about the Pegasus pipeline, its age (65 years?), and the operating pressure being excessive considering its age and condition. As you know, the pressure rating of a smooth wall steel pipe is defined by the following formula:
    PR = 2St/Do
    Where:
    PR = Pressure Rating,
    S = Allowable Stress,
    t = Wall Thickness (existing for aged pipelines),
    Do = Pipe Outside Diameter
    I have these questions about the failed section of the Pegasus pipeline:
    1) When was the last time the wall thickness was checked by an internal survey?
    2) What was the minimum wall thickness in that area based on the last pipeline survey?
    3) What is the resulting Pressure Rating based on existing wall thickness?
    4) What was the pipeline operating pressure at the time of rupture?
    5) What is Exxon’s policy for maximum pipeline operating pressure as a percentage of calculated PR for a 65 year old pipeline? Based on my experience, a significant derating, perhaps as much as 50%, would not be too conservative. What derating factor does Exxon use?
  • David B. Benson on April 18 2013 said:
    A crack can propagate very rapidly. I don't see that much can be made out of that.

    Other aspects of the situation, however...

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