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Video: Five major pipeline ruptures in January 2015

February 3, 2015

North Dakota. Mississippi. North Dakota again. Montana. West Virginia. Watch the footage of pipeline explosions, fireballs and spills in just the first month of 2015, and you’re likely to join Rachel Maddow in asking, “How much more pipeline can we take?” Fracked oil, fracked gas, fracked natural gas liquids (ethane), and toxic brine from fracking spilled by the millions of gallons into water, air, and land, while the climate impacts go un-estimated, as usual. One explosion was so massive that it was picked up as a “weather event.”

On January 28th, 2015, the Rachel Maddow Show condensed footage of all five January disasters into just 3 minutes.

Maura Stephens, an educator and journalist based at Ithaca College, has created a factual companion narrative (and commentary) providing background information on each of the incidents. She also shows how this 3 minute montage may be used as an organizing tool. Maura Stephens’ narrative:

Here is context for the  3:36-minute clip (could be cut to 3:05, per below) from the Rachel Maddow Show featuring five January 2015 pipeline explosions/ruptures in the USA. Background facts about the five January explosions and ruptures, in chronological order:

                                                                                                                                                                                                     1. On January 6, 2015, a massive pipeline leak in North Dakota began and sent a reported 3 million gallons of frack-waste brine into two creeks near Williston, Blacktail Creek and the Little Muddy River, whence it emptied into the Missouri River, one of Williston’s drinking water sources. Compliments of Summit Midstream, it was the largest toxic frack-brine spill in the state’s history; the fracking byproduct contains heavy salts plus fracking fluids and petroleum. (Poor, poor Missouri River: During major floods last Marchflooded oil will spilled into the river near its confluence with the Yellowstone, where the rising floodwaters threatened 38 oil wells.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         Three years before that, during midsummer floods in July, an oil well ruptured and spilled 900 gallons into the Missouri River in North Dakota [the oil wells’ owner: “Clearly, I should have been more prepared, but it didn’t occur to me that the water would go over our 10-foot (containment) dike. When I heard this, I felt terrible. I don’t think I slept an hour last night”]. And two weeks before that, a ruptured crude-oil pipeline had spewed 42,000 gallons into the Yellowstone, which runs into the Missouri River a few miles south. A recent New York Times investigation found that 18.4 million gallons of oil and chemical substances leaked into North Dakota’s air, water, and soil between 2006 and October 2014.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. On the morning of Wednesday, January 14, residents were shocked when a massive fiery explosion of a 30-inch gas pipe run by Gulf South Pipeline near the Barnett Reservoir in Rankin County, Mississippi lit up the sky; a swath of forest burned, and the plume was picked up by weather satellites. Fortunately, those living in the 25 houses in the area were not harmed. I expect some wildlife were not so lucky, nor were the scorched trees.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     3. On Jan. 19, about 51,000 gallons of Bakken shale oil went into the Yellowstone River near Glendive MT  when a Bridger Pipeline Company pipeline burst; this was the second major spill in the Yellowstone in four years and caused the town of Glendive to lose its water supply. The pipeline, which was supposed to be buried at least four feeb below the river bottom, “somehow” became exposed and ruptured. I mean, I ain’t an EPA engineer, but this seems absolutely stupid to me:

“None of us anticipated the drinking water problem,” said Peronard, a 30-year veteran of the EPA who estimates he’s worked to clean up about 200 spills. Though Glendive depended on the river for drinking water, its intake pipe at the treatment plant sat well below where anyone expected the oil to float. “As soon as they told me the intake was 14 feet below the water surface, I wasn’t worried about the water intake,” he said. “Turned out to be wrong about that.” (National Geographic story, “Ice Hampers Cleanup in Yellowstone’s Rare Winter Oil Spill,” link below)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.  On January 22, 100,000 gallons of toxic brine was spilled near Tioga, North Dakotacompliments of Hess Bakken Investments II LLC.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     5. And then on January 26, the West Virginia fireball that Maddow led her story with. The 12 month-old pipeline, run by Texas-based Enterprise Products Partners LP, has been carrying about 80,000 barrels per day to the Gulf Coast. From the story in ShalePlayPA.com: “In West Virginia, state law mandates that the actual natural gas wells be a minimum of 625 feet from a residence. But when it comes to the pipelines that transport natural gas, there is no such distance regulation.” Oh goody, who would want any more annoying regulations getting in the way of our profits?
                                                                                                                                                                                                        More info: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: “Weather hampers Yellowstone cleanup” — Shows starkly how insane a thing it is to force anyone to have to be on call to do, much less actually attempt. It’s so impossible anyway.  Remember, in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster, only 14 percent of the 11,000,000+ gallons of oil was recovered. (Scientists estimate that 50 percent decomposed or biodegraded or evaporated, but that still leaves 36 percent in and around Prince Island Sound — nearly 4,000,000 gallons. Ugh.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                         This is worth re-reading: Prior to these five incidents, a recent New York Times investigation found that 18.4 million gallons of oil and chemical substances leaked into North Dakota’s air, water, and soil between 2006 and October 2014 due to Bakken Shale oil operations.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Suggestion to organizers presenting this 3 minute clip at a public forum:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’d start it at :15 in — You’d just have to introduce it as “A midday explosion at a relatively new — one year old — pipeline in Brooke County, West Virginia, carrying Marcellus shale gas, on Monday, January 26th 2015. And you could stop at 3:20 for time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Thanks to Maura Stephens:
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Maura Stephens
Independent journalist, educator, theater artist
Contributor, Truthout
Cofounder, FrackBustersNY

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