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View Diary: What Exactly is in Dilbit? It is a Secret. (242 comments)

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  •  I suspect they'll be along shortly (6+ / 0-)

    My argument doesn't "fail." It's based on science and observation.

    In an emergency response, the first step is to figure out how to stop the release, stop the spread of the material already released, and then bring in the equipment to remove material and environmental media that have become contaminated by the release.

    If you think it through, the response one might expect if you were dealing with a material that had somewhat limited mobility in the environment would be to act early to prevent its spread and then to later bring in the earth moving equipment to address the remaining problem after the initial migration has been largely arrested. And it sounds as if that's the case, since you appear to believe there's no earth moving equipment on the scene yet.

    •  Yes it does because if they were working on that (8+ / 0-)

      premise they would not put paper towels on top as that would impede evaporation/atomization.

      And if it was a waiting game yes they would be moving heavy equipment in there because it only takes a small berm to retard spreading. And no matter what we would hear those Caterpillars purr for miles.

      So where are they?

      "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 07:54:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. Those likely aren't paper towels. (7+ / 0-)

        They're probably absorbent sheets that repel water and absorb oil, to more effectively mop up the floating hydrocarbons associated with this disaster.

        I don't know that heavy equipment is not at the scene.  Do you?  None within miles? How do you know that?

        Do you know that Exxon Mobil's contractors are not finalizing contracts to move equipment and OSHA HAZWOPER (hazardous waste operations)-trained operators to the site? Do you know that they're not currently developing remedial plans, arranging for treatment and proper material disposition, and writing health and safety plans and procuring appropriate personal protective gear so workers can do this job safely?

        How would you know that?

        •  Don't hurt yourself. (5+ / 0-)

          pretzels

          I see you are not up to the challenge.

          "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

          by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:17:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I know all about the proper (7+ / 0-)

          clean up of oil and related hydrocarbon spills on a practical and professional level. Including training to ensure environmental and health compliance.

          To be sure my experience isn't to this horrific scale. But I do know what is and isn't supposed to happen.

          BTW letting stuff evaporate is a no-no.

          "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

          by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:35:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's an interesting comment (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eyesbright, Sparhawk, Johnny Nucleo

            How did you pick up so much knowledge that you know "all about clean up of oil and related hydrocarbon spills on a practical and professional level. Including training to ensure environmental and health compliance"?

            •  Turning a wrench (6+ / 0-)

              To receive bulk oil and solvents you must be trained in how to clean them up if spilled.

              Since the standards are EPA based it is not difficult to ensure conformity throughout several industries.

              "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

              by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 09:29:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Horace... (0+ / 0-)

                I don't know if you are being sarcastic or if you actually believe that being trained on how to mop up a spill at a valve is somehow equivalent or even relevant to remediating a large environmental contamination problem, but it's not.

                Knowing how to address a spill at a valve is not in any way the same as knowing "all about the clean up of oil and related hydrocarbon spills on a practical and professional level."

                That's simply not even in the arena of factual.

                It's comparable to saying someone knows all about surgery for deep lacerations and related injuries on a practical and professional level simply because you've been trained to apply bandages.  

                •  Shill. (0+ / 0-)

                  "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

                  by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 06:44:05 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Mmm hmm (0+ / 0-)

                    There.  Did that make you feel better?

                    Look: you don't appear to know what you're talking about.  

                    That's when an open-minded person starts to listen and ask questions.

                    On the other hand, it's when another type of person starts to spew insults.

                    •  it does not matter if it is one drop (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Don midwest

                      or a billion gallons

                      The law does not change.

                      Your attempts to say otherwise are transparent.

                      "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

                      by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 07:15:26 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Actually, it does (0+ / 0-)

                        Again, you're exhibiting ignorance.  

                        Environmental regulations very clearly distinguish between incidental, minor releases (i.e., "one drop" or even a dozen) and "a billion gallons."

                        I'll offer a little more advice:

                        This is when a smart person lets go of the shovel and stops digging.

                        On the other hand, it's when another type of person deepens the hole in which they're standing.

                      •  To help you along a little (0+ / 0-)

                        And I apologize for not including this in my original reply, may I introduce you to the concept of reportable quantity under Superfund, technically known as CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act):

                        Section 103(a) of CERCLA "as amended" and EPA's implementing regulations (40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 302.8) require that the person in charge of a vessel or facility immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC) whenever a reportable quantity (RQ) or more of a CERCLA hazardous substance is released in any 24 hour period, unless the release is federally permitted. The purpose of this requirement is to notify officials of potentially dangerous releases so that they can evaluate the need for a response action.
                        and
                        Reportable Quantity Adjustments

                        RQs under CERCLA are adjusted to one of five levels: 1, 10, 100, 1,000, or 5,000 pounds. EPA bases adjustments to the RQs on the intrinsic characteristics of each hazardous substance, such as the aquatic toxicity, acute and chronic toxicity, ignitability, reactivity, and potential carcinogenicity. An RQ value is established for each of these characteristics of a hazardous substance, with the most stringent RQ value (i.e., the lowest quantity) becoming the final RQ or reporting trigger for that hazardous substance.

                        Statutory Reportable Quantities (RQs) are often those set provisionally by Congress (usually at one pound), pending detailed scientific analysis by EPA and adjustment through notice and comment rulemaking. They often do not reflect the relative hazard posed to public health and the environment. By adjusting the RQs, the Agency is able to focus its resources on those releases that are more likely to pose potential threats to public health or welfare or the environment, while relieving the regulated community and government emergency response personnel from the burden of making and responding to reports of releases that are less likely to pose such threats.

                        EPA decided to adjust the statutory RQs of CERCLA hazardous substances that are also CWA hazardous substances to make notification requirements for these substances consistent and less confusing for the regulated community. By making the CWA and CERCLA RQs the same, the Agency sought to avoid confusion regarding reporting requirement

        •  if they are absorbing oil, why are they still.... (9+ / 0-)

          white?  i've seen lots of pictures of them and they are white on top of the surface.  if they were absorbing tar sands oil they would be dark - black and brown.

          i'm part of the 99% - america's largest minority

          by joe shikspack on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:57:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not at the scene, so I don't know (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, mmacdDE

            I believe some versions of absorbent pads available on the market have an oil-impermeable layer bonded to the absorbent layer so that the top stays white even when the pad is impregnated with oil, which would make it easier to see and retrieve later on.

          •  Therer a number of different products used to (0+ / 0-)

            asorb oil from a spill I have mentioned in other comments the type made from comressed feathers which are white but quite thick so the oil does not penetrate all the way through. There are many others such as found in this catalog.

            I'd tip you but they cut off my tip box. The TSA would put Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad on the no-fly list.

            by OHdog on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 09:22:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not necessarily (0+ / 0-)

            If you change a baby's poopy and wet diaper, it's only dirty on one side - the poop doesn't leak through (or it's not supposed to).

            Depending on how thick those were, and how they were constructed, they might be pretty full of oil and still look white on the side that wasn't absorbent.

        •  And how would you know EM IS doing all that respon (9+ / 0-)

          se stuff? Comforting words, with the implication that the rest of us should just "trust" that corp-types you note you have worked with as a consultant:

          I have worked with a number of other large corporations in the past (I'm an environmental consultant).  Certain companies, because of their size or their history or both, don't believe they really have to answer to anyone. They see themselves as in charge and somewhat untouchable.  In other words, we (EPA, the state, you, and I) don't have any real right to know or question what they do.  Oh -- they understand laws and regulations state otherwise; they just don't view them as valid, especially when they're in emergency response mode.  In other words, they view them more as niceties than requirements.
          As a former EPA enforcement attorney who got to "work with" Corp types and environmental consultants they retained, too, I might offer that your description of how those folks think and act is, shall we say, unduly gentle? Framed in consultant-speak, maybe? I know how seductive the mind set is, once you get into it and see where the money flows are going... Nothing personal on you, I have no idea of your personal bona fides.

          The institutionalized arrogance of those folks needs to be experienced. "Things," group-mind "corporate persons" like Monsanto and Dow and all the Big Oil companies act like "environmental laws and regulations" and the people who try to enforce them and the "citizens" who get to eat their externalities are just a bunch of buzzing gnats getting in the way of the Serious Business of Advancing The Corporate Interest in Making a Profit. Tony Hayward was inadvertently eloquent about the phenomenon:

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

          He by all accounts has his life back just fine, golf and yachting and multiple "homes" and the rest. what Exxonmobil and their consultants, environmental and PR and security, are trying to avoid, is even a scintilla of shame for being a bunch of greedy shitheads. With the greed amplified by the echo chamber they live and work in.

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 09:42:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bingo. (3+ / 0-)
            (I'm an environmental consultant)
            Depending on clientlist, "(I'm an environmental consultant)" is 1 step away from admitting to being an industry shill.

            #3: ensure network neutrality; #2: ensure electoral integrity; #1: ensure ecosystemic sustainability.

            by ivote2004 on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 02:47:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And that client list (0+ / 0-)

              Includes dirty industry (i.e., old traditional manufacturing), "clean" industry (light industrial/assembly, typically with modern appreciation for appropriate waste management and discharge), foundations, trusts, municipalities, water utilities, and (by repeated personal request) EPA.

              If you would take the time to read my comments in this diary, I'm simply trying to note that the assumptions that evil is afoot are not really (yet, at least) borne out by evidence, that there may be rational explanations for what we know is going on, and that activities such as pipeline operations and spill cleanup should be strictly regulated with enforcement power.

              And this gets me accused of being an industry shill....

              You people are ridiculous.  If someone doesn't mindlessly join the lynch mob they're obviously just a shill.

              Let me check the URL...No, it's not freerepublic, it's dailykos.

              Huh.  Who'da thunk?

          •  Funny stuff (0+ / 0-)

            See, to me, when I write that a company feels they aren't subject to law and regulation, that's a pretty damning accusation. I'm not sure how much worse an allegation I could make.

            But to an attorney, it's weak tea, suggests I'm "unduly gentle," and worthy of implying I'm just a lap dog.

            That's why I'm not cut out to be an attorney.

        •  Ernest... how good are technicalities (17+ / 0-)

          at dealing with the exigencies and residual consequences that arise? The extractive industries consider that type of thinking to be liberal and do-gooderish.

          So while everything you have noted is factually accurate... the soil, the processes occurring therein, the chemicals, etc... the residual consequences are squashed.

          As Agathena notes in the diary and others have stated... and you yourself bring it to the conversation... these big companies intend to conduct their business as it suits them with no interference from the government's stewardship or the landowners and communities.

          Big Oil's right to the black oil sucked from the bowels of the earth outweigh the right to water and its necessities of life. All across this country and the world... our dwindling water resources are contaminated and destroyed.

          They shut down independent analysis and research which could yield benefits to their business in the long run when we discover how to better deal with these chemicals.

          Instead, it's their way or the highway because they are ultimately authoritarian bastards who want to rule the roost without too much trouble.


          A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

          by bronte17 on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 09:51:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're partly right and partly wrong (0+ / 0-)

            and partly opaque (but maybe that's just how I interpret your language).

            I've made no secret about calling for stricter regulation of these industries, including extractive industries that use techniques such as hydrofracturing.

            But you're incorrect when you state that "they shut down independent analysis and research which could yield benefits to their business in the long run when we discover how to better deal with these chemicals."

            That's not true.  Here's a (probably feckless) diary in which I discussed an example of how these industries have paid millions to independent university researchers to address one of the most difficult contamination problems, dense non-aqueous phase liquids.  Similar investment has been made when dealing with floating hydrocarbon (light nonaqueous phase liquid) remediation, largely through member companies into the American Petroleum Institute.  

            Like it or not, some of the leading experts in how to deal with these problems have earned that expertise by working for, or by having their research paid for, by the very companies we're talking about.

            •  And you know that universities are not the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Agathena

              lily white knights in shining armor that we all presumed them to be when we were children.

              I worked in environmental law and have seen a little bit of everything from Environmental "Protection" Cabinet manipulations (my words are kind) to universities putting its weight behind egregious behaviors.

              Follow the money ain't just cheap talk.


              A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

              by bronte17 on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 11:24:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Rather than admit you were wrong (0+ / 0-)

                You just spew ongoing insults.

                Thanks.

                Springing off the example to which I directed you, please provide evidence that the work of the University Consortium, paid for by industry, did not move the science of DNAPL fate, transport, and remediation ahead significantly; providing substantial improvement in how we deal with these complex problems.

                I'll make it easy for you: you can't.  Because it has helped. Tremendously.

                I'm sure it's intellectually easy for you to simply smear by association.   It's a very popular past time among some self-declared "environmentalists" around here.

                Yep. Guilt by association.  Easy peasy. Joe McCarthy, at least, thought so.  

                •  Ernest... where were the insults (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ernest T Bass, Agathena

                  spewed?

                  Granted, I referenced work that is personally familiar to me and did not followup on your reference. But, that is hardly "spewing ongoing insults." Some/many universities are in fact captured by industries and it does no one any good to pretend otherwise. And, it should be apparent that if I were gunning for a fight with you... I would have picked your reference apart. But, I did not do that.

                  Furthermore, none of my comments have been made with ill intention toward you. In fact, I acknowledged that your technicalities added to the discussion.

                  I realize this was a difficult diary for you because the flames came out down the thread... but that wasn't my intention. So, ixnay on the McCarthy mudslinging. It's beneath you.


                  A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

                  by bronte17 on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 01:50:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  An over-reaction (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bronte17

                    I get tired of being accused of being the bad guy because I happen to understand that these things are not as simple and black and white as some seem to think, and that the reality may be that evil industry sometimes (perhaps grudgingly) does the right thing.

                    I was springing off of your "white knight" comment and more directly off the "follow the money" comment, because I interpreted "follow the money" to be shorthand for "dismiss everything anyone who has ever worked for or accepted money from industry has ever done."

                    Which is more or less the apparent opinion of some folks around here.

                    Since I evidently was wrong with that interpretation, I apologize.

                    And I misunderstood your comment carried over from your original comment title (hence my "opaque" statement). I thought you might be dismissing stuff such as facts and well-supported science as "technicalities," but I wasn't quite sure what you meant.

    •  The dilbit was gushing out under pressure for 45 (9+ / 0-)

      minutes before it was shut off. That's their response time in this case.

      •  Is that a good or bad response time? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ginny in CO

        Serious question.

        This is an old pipeline, after you shut of pressure downstream (however far that is) how long is it before all the oil that's going to flow out of the pipeline does so?

        Was the shut-off remote controlled, or did someone have to go out there and turn a valve?  It's buried, so presumably there's only a couple of access points.

        •  Not good, I saw gushing through the woods onto (6+ / 0-)

          the streets of Mayflower. Another witness said it was more like 90 minutes. Stories vary of course. Most witnesses are not scientists with stop watches.

          •  Regarding response time, here's an example (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Don midwest, Oh Mary Oh
            [Enbridge's] emergency response plan the company keeps on file with PHMSA [Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (a perennially underfunded and understaffed division of the US Department of Transportation)] is more specific. It says a rupture on the Lakehead system would be detected within five minutes and the damaged segment closed in three minutes. Reference:"The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of" by Lisa Song and Elizabeth McGowan
            I am assuming that ExxonMobile or any other such company would have a similar emergency response plan filed. Here's their website on emergency response.
            http://www.exxonmobil.com/...

            They claim their personnel "were on the ground within 30 minutes after the leak was detected." Witnesses on the ground have different stories. It will be confirmed in court since there is a class action law suit pending against the company. They have till April 10 to produce "investigative reports, inspection documents and other information connected to the incident."
            http://www.icis.com/...

    •  kinda like flushing it down the drains? (4+ / 0-)

      just asking is all.  Oh, and:

      I suspect what they will be dealing with is a widespread, relatively shallow, remediation problem.
      means what, exactly? 5 sq mi 5 ft deep removal of all contaminated soil?  and how does "remediate" a lake that gets contaminated?  Just a little bit of toxin in the water is like being a little bit pregant...  How does one test for contamination when nobody knows the contaminant?  Just curious

      ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

      by geekydee on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 09:14:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All of the comments and diaries intimating (4+ / 0-)

        that ExxonMobil flushed oil into wetlands or is somehow not supposed to let the volatile fractions of the crude evaporate and is somehow evidence of ExxonMobil nefarious intent in the managing and performance of this cleanup......

        .....I don't understand why such allegations should be considered as either relevant, helpful or productive.

        Just like the Daily Kos petition against the aviation restrictions over the site......This doesn't engage the fundamental issue and is a waste of time and energy.

        Standard operating procedures in spills of this nature is to use vacuum trucks to remove as much of the buik of the oil as possible present in pools, over impervious surfaces, etc.  

        After that, what remains has to be removed in a manner that is practical and technically feasible.   If you saw oil being flushed down that street with power washing, such operation only occurred after vacuum truck removal methods were applied to remove as much as the bulk oil as possible.  

        All of these cleanups are multi-stage operational undertakings and looking at the site in isolation at any one time cannot tell you what was done previously.

        •  While that may be true (5+ / 0-)

          (or noit), how are we to know when access to any of the "supposed" cleanup methodologies were not alloweed to be documented?  Take it on faith?  Can you honestly say you would allow them to clean up a spill this large without oversight and documentation?  If this were in your state or county?  If it was in your childs playground?  I am by no means an ecolfreak, but neither do I believe we should be peeing in our pool.  So nobody can make an oversized steam cleaner to hit the ground with an active steam agent based on the spill products and immediately bring it up through a vacuum system?  Sounds like tech really needs to invented and implemented...

          Unless I can find documented proof one way or the other, I will go with what I feel is the most logical explanation.  And if I am wrong, that would be great for the environment, but if you are wrong, then what?  Good for the corporations?  Oh, by the way, thank you for asking the tough questions.  The fact that you asked them makes this the civil discussion that is meant to be here, not like those other ones that shall not be named. :P
          And this?

          Just like the Daily Kos petition against the aviation restrictions over the site......This doesn't engage the fundamental issue and is a waste of time and energy.
          Totally agree, no different than blocking the road from all traffic except for equipment, materials, and manpower  :)

          ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

          by geekydee on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 11:33:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Apparently a lot remained because there's so (0+ / 0-)

          much of it at the end of their hoses in the wet lands according to videos taken by activists. Dilbit is as thick as peanut butter so scooping it up off the streets and elsewhere is not easy. What's left was flushed along with dispersant into the storm sewers and into the wet lands. Not good. Whether intentional or not, the results are the same: pollution of wet lands adjacent to Lake Conway.

      •  I doubt it would get to 5 feet (0+ / 0-)

        This probably is pretty viscous stuff and would have limited ability to penetrate into soil.  You're probably looking at a few inches in most places, possibly as much as a foot or two in the worst spots (which would be in low areas where the stuff pooled up to a substantial depth and therefore had the head and duration to allow it to penetrate deeper).

        Lake remediation could involve installing silt barriers and doing environmental dredging. It could involve capping.  It could involve adding reagents to promote chemical fixation or biological degradation of contaminants.  

        An early step in testing for contamination would be to collect samples of the material released, test it's chemical composition including tentatively identified compounds, and (if you're smart) run some basic physical tests such as specific gravity and viscosity) so you (1) know the chemical components you need to look for, (2) have an understanding of how the material may migrate in the environment, (3) can calculate the risk to human health and the environment, (4) can knowledgeably evaluate different remedial technologies and approaches for addressing identified risk, and (5) have a factual basis for calculating and defending claims of natural resource damage.

        •  You are wrong, their hoses went right into the (0+ / 0-)

          wetlands.

          •  I think you're misinterpreting (0+ / 0-)

            The statement I was questioned on had to deal with the widespread, original, release.

            That's what I responded to.

            I wasn't responding to, nor was I questioned about, "hoses."

            You really should pay closer attention. You seem to be letting your zeal outpace your cognition and judgment.

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