Comments by Eckermann

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Posted on June 3 at 9:04 p.m.

Yikes! This is so wrong on so many levels. First, the fact that the six inch slit is in the bottom tells me that the product moving down the line has sand in it, which means that ExxonMobil is not removing all the sand before sending to the refinery. Second, the external corrosion indicates that the cathode protection did not work. Thirdly, the discrepancy between what the smart pig recorded and what was really there is an indication that the smart pig inspections are not providing accurate inspection information. So we can conclude that industry standard corrosion control does not work, ExxonMobil's processing plant is not removing all the sand from the crude before shipping it to refineries, and the primary method we have for determining pipeline integrity does not give us accurate information. As I said before, Yikes!

On Early Pipeline Finding Names Corrosion Likely Culprit

Posted on May 30 at 9:12 p.m.

DavyBrown, I don't disagree with you and I would never suggest that we could change the institutional culture of oil companies with regulation. What can be done though is to design regulations that account for that institutional culture. I call it, "never trust and always verify." It would be nice if we could rid Santa Barbara County of the risk that comes with oil and gas production, but that is not a realistic goal. More pragmatic would be to treat the oil companies as if they were wild and defiant teenagers that need limits and rules and curfews and consequences for there actions. You cannot change the personality of a troubled and rebellious teenager, but you can regulate the behavior to an extent that the teenager does not harm himself/herself or others. That is what we need to do with the oil companies. Make them check in a lot, don't give them too long a leash, listen carefully to their expression of their needs, adjust the restrictions based on good behavior, and punish misdeeds severely. The place where this analogy breaks down is that, for some reason, the oil companies are never going to grow up and become responsible adults.

On The Mysterious Case of the Automatic Shutoff Valve

Posted on May 29 at 8:54 p.m.

The off point comments on this string notwithstanding, this is a great article and is right on point. The failure of the pipeline is most likely the result of some kind of weird unforeseen combination of physical circumstances. However, the failure of the safety systems is most likely the failure produced by institutional culture. I know, this is banal, but it is important to discern so that we can design regulations that mitigate the institutional culture of the oil companies.

On The Mysterious Case of the Automatic Shutoff Valve

Posted on May 27 at 9:40 p.m.

Pardall, I love I.V. and I admire your pride. It is unfortunate that Goleta did not embrace I.V. On the other hand, I.V. is its very own thing and I am sure that you are happy that you are not sucked into the land use nightmare that Goleta has become since cityhood. I lived there for four years in the 70s and loved every minute. The summer of 1976 was an idyll that no fiction writer could ever imagine. IV has had problems as of late and I'm sympathetic. However, it remains a unique and special place and you will get through this oil spill mess just as you have survived so many other insults.

On Official Refugio Cleanup Order Issued

Posted on May 27 at 1:06 p.m.

So Plains All American Pipeline now gets the benefit of free labor in the clean up effort? If there need to be more people in order to complete the clean up job, why not simply hire and pay the folks who want to part of the effort? I applaud the volunteers for their selfless altruism, however the pipeline company should not be the beneficiary of free labor to fulfill their responsibility to clean up the mess.

On Refugio Cleanup Takes Applications

Posted on May 24 at 10:14 a.m.

Jarvis, the oil spill event has absolutely nothing to do with Lois Capps. It is weird that you feel it necessary to make such tortured stretch of false logic to use this event to express your well-worn animus against Ms. Capps. I also find your argument that somehow this problem was caused by lack of regulatory zeal on the part of a single congressperson. Its seems that in the world of JarvisJarvis, regulation is bad and lack of regulation is bad. Government is bad when it does something and government is bad when it does nothing. The world of JarvisJarvis is a weird world indeed.

On Refugio Pipeline Shutdown Puts Brakes on Oil Production

Posted on May 23 at 9:20 p.m.

The tracks are nearby but there is no spur. That would take another permit process. Train engines are notoriously messy air pollution sources (lots of nitrogen oxides and diesel particulates). Once again this will all require a County permit process, which will take the better part of a year.

On Refugio Pipeline Shutdown Puts Brakes on Oil Production

Posted on May 23 at 3:14 p.m.

In order to transport oil by trucks, ExxonMobil would have to get a permit from the County to do so and Venoco would need a permit from the City of Goleta. These permit processes would not be completed quickly and would be very controversial. If either project attempted to escape an EIR the resulting lawsuits would tie up the projects for at least a year. It take less time to just wait for Line 901 to come back into service than to embark on the trucking project.

On Refugio Pipeline Shutdown Puts Brakes on Oil Production

Posted on May 21 at 8:15 p.m.

You have to be kidding me! Any pipeline built in the last 30 years that does not have automatic leak shutdown technology is simply design and operational malfeasance. The reason that Plains sued the County to escape regulation was to avoid the extra safeguards that would have prevented this disaster. The oil companies fought tooth and nail to prevent the local air pollution control districts from regulating air pollution from offshore oil platforms and luckily they lost that fight. This is all "coulda, woulda, shoulda," at this point. Hopefully, the huge fines that will be levied can go to help preserve the Gaviota Coast from further depredation.

On Huge Oversight Gap on Refugio Pipeline

Posted on May 20 at 9:32 p.m.

This is a systemic failure of very large proportions. First, the pipeline inspection system failed to detect weakness in the pipeline. Second, the leak detection system failed to shut down the pipeline automatically. Third, the human response to observing abnormalities was slow. Fourth, there was apparently no human inspection backup of the pipeline route (i.e., someone travelling and observing the pipeline route daily) who would have discovered this leak before it did any major damage. I have to conclude that all of these systems failure were the result of human decisions. Those decision were most likely made to save money. This is the result of the of invisible hand of economics. What we need to prevent this type of disaster in the future is the very visible hand of regulation, more of it and more assiduously applied. While it might be satisfying to see the regulatory agencies kicking butt now, if they had had the authority to have been kicking butt earlier, this would not have happened.

On As Refugio Oil Slick Spreads, Spill Estimate Rises

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