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Comments by Eckermann

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Posted on June 18 at 4:06 p.m.

Good work Nick. Although articles like this are going to get you put on Saint JIC's naughty list. I wonder what a half decent earthquake would do to this pipeline? They may as well start digging up the whole 130 mile length now and save time. It might be cheaper and faster to just abandon the existing pipeline and put a new one above ground in a spill containment trough right on top of the route of the old one. I know, real ugly, but safer, easier to inspect, and less likely to corrode.

On News Analysis: Pipeline Problems Date Back to 1986

Posted on June 17 at 9:20 p.m.

Next issue: The corrosion that caused the rupture was external. That is bad news for the entire 130 mile length of the pipeline. Also, internal smart pig inspections cannot assess the extent of external corrosion. This whole pipeline needs to be dug up and inspected, inch by inch. Also, just to add a little spice to this curry, did the product introduced into the pipeline contain a biocide to prevent the bloom of organisms in the crude stream during its journey to its destination and did that biocide contribute to the high death rate of the animals exposed to the oil in the ocean? Just asking.

On Tear-Licking Dogs

Posted on June 16 at 1:35 p.m.

One of the stories that JIC does not want explored concerns questions about whether a more rapid response could have prevented oil from reaching the ocean or, once it reached the shoreline, could have prevented the oil from entering the water. Could the culvert have been blocked by timely application of a bulldozer or bales of hay, thereby keeping the oil on land? These are questions that I am sure the JIC does not want explored by reporters. So far, I have not seen a clear time line that describes how much time passed between the moment the leak was discovered and moment it reached the shore. If by the time the leak was detected, the oil was already in the water, well that does not pose serious questions about the alacrity of the spill response. However, if the oil was still confined to land when the leak was discovered, a rapid and robust response by Plains and others with the resources to respond might have prevented a lot of damage. Does the JIC have clear answers to these questions?

On News Commentary: Refugio Officials 'Target' Specific Reporters

Posted on June 15 at 12:22 p.m.

Bimboteskie, I do not believe that the helicopter was excessive. Those boys are not Daniel Boone types, they are city boys. They could have easily become lost, seriously dehydrated, and/or injured in that environment. The County had the responsibility to protect the health and welfare of those children (yep, they are still children) and so bringing in the helicopter to find them as soon as possible was totally appropriate.

On Five Teens Captured After Escaping Los Prietos Boys Camp

Posted on June 10 at 7:39 p.m.

Plains is really in a tough spot now. ExxonMobil has pursued its administrative remedies (and will continue to do so) and will then document its losses and go after Plains with full vigor. That is sort of like having an international drug cartel or the Navy Seals after you. It is hard to imagine good outcome for Plains. Also, the fact that the corrosion was external is not good news for Plains. That fact means that ExxonMobil's product did not cause the problem. The problem was 100% in Plains' erosion control and inspection protocols. The whole pipeline, all the way the way to Kern County is now suspect. The whole thing might have to be replaced, which could take a year. With ExxonMobil sighting down the barrel at Plains, the local, State, and Federal governments are the least of Plains' concerns at this point. This should be good drama. Stay tuned. By the way, thanks Pardall for the I.V. taxes. Goleta should step up and do the right thing. It might be a good opportunity to get rid of Revenue Neutrality Agreement and suck Goleta Beach Park into the City.

On County Denies ExxonMobil Request to Haul Oil by Truck

Posted on June 10 at 7:35 p.m.

Plains is really in a tough spot now. ExxonMobil has pursued its administrative remedies (and will continue to do so) and will then document its losses and go after Plains with full vigor. That is sort of like having an international drug cartel or the Navy Seals after you. It is hard to imagine good outcome for Plains. Also, the fact that the corrosion was external is not good news for Plains. That fact means that ExxonMobil's product did not cause the problem. The problem was 100% in Plains' erosion control and inspection protocols. The whole pipeline, all the way the way to Kern County is now suspect. The whole thing might have to be replaced, which could take a year. With ExxonMobil sighting down the barrel at Plains, the local, State, and Federal governments are the least of Plains' concerns at this point. This should be good drama. Stay tuned.

On County Denies ExxonMobil Request to Haul Oil by Truck

Posted on June 6 at 9:06 a.m.

With his essay Mr. Francisco is guilty of the very thing the essay says we should not do. That is panic. We should not take a precipitous action without careful analysis simply because of a potential for a temporary loss of tax revenues. Mr. Francisco is also being disingenuous when he suggests that the temporary shut down of gas production from ExxonMobil would significantly disrupt natural gas supplies. He well knows that the gas distribution system is robust and that the nation is currently awash in an over supply of natural gas. Eight trucks an hour 24 hours a day for many months accessing Highway 101 on the Gaviota Coast at the Refugio on ramp is not a trivial safety issue. All that traffic passing through Santa Maria and Guadalupe is also a concern. Ultimately, the truck option may indeed be the only option, however before it is the permitted option it should go through a very deliberate, thorough, and public review. This is not the time for Chicken Little hysterics. Let's calm down, sober up, and approach this with the systematic deliberation that was lacking in the management of the pipeline.

On After the Spill

Posted on June 5 at 1:03 p.m.

This clearly does not fit the definition of "emergency." If it is not safe to operate the plant at reduced processing rates, then ExxonMobil should initiate an orderly shutdown of the processing plant and the three offshore platforms (just as Venoco has done). The application for a permit to allow the transportation of oil with trucks should go through the normal process and be subject to complete analysis and review for environmental and safety impacts. Also, I'm sure the Bacara Resort loves the idea of Venoco trucking oil out of the Ellwood facility. The oil companies should use this an opportunity to do what is called in the industry a "turnaround," where they conduct thorough maintenance and conduct safety checks and upgrade equipment.

On ExxonMobil Submits Emergency Application to Truck Oil

Posted on June 4 at 8:12 p.m.

In my experience, the industries being regulated by environmental protection agencies have undue influence in the development of the regulations. On one hand, it is important to get input from the industries that are subject to regulation to ensure that the regulations do not produce impossible requirements. However, once the input on impossible requirements has been received, the agencies should shut out the industries and go about the work of crafting regulations that protect the environment without consideration to the "bottom line" of the industries. The fact that Plains has a place at the table in the response team and is not simply told what to do and when to do it, is troubling. This pipeline should be shut down until every inch has been thoroughly inspected and certified as safe and the oil producers that feed the pipeline should be shut down until the pipeline is certified for safe use.

On Refugio Oil Spill: Let No Crisis Go to Waste

Posted on June 4 at 12:31 p.m.

Glenn Russell is no fool, so I cannot imagine that he would grant the emergency permit for truck transport of ExxonMobil's oil. Taking such an action without requiring environmental review would result in general outrage in the community. Furthermore, at least three members of the Board of Supervisors (for whom Mr. Russell works) would be very unhappy. The trucks would produce excess air pollution that may be subject to regulation by the Air Pollution Control District, nearest access to the freeway are the on ramps at either Refugio or El Capitan, neither of which is designed to handle that kind traffic, and the safety of moving that much oil by truck has not been analyzed. It is a no-brainer for Russell to deny the application for emergency permit and require ExxonMobil to go through the public scrutiny of a regular permit process, including and EIR. No doubt that including time for appeals to the Board of Supervisors, that permit process would take the better part of a year. ExxonMobil would be better off simply waiting for the pipeline to be repaired and re-opened.

On Refugio Oil Spill — Two Weeks In

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