Friday, January 03, 2014

 

Pro-Pipeline Propaganda from Yahoo! and AP


A news item appears among the headlines on Yahoo! dot com this morning, signed "Associated Press, By MATTHEW BROWN and JAMES MacPHERSON" informing that a "Warning issued about oil shale shipped from ND, Mont." This may be a good example of an article best read from the bottom to the top.
North Dakota state officials said production "likely" won't be stunted (which means severely prevented from growing) by the recent occurrence of an accident.
An interesting sentence for deconstruction is "North Dakota regulators had said last month that they were considering crafting a report to disprove that hauling the state's crude by rail is dangerously explosive." How and when is hauling dangerously explosive? From the cases of accidents cited, it seems the hauling becomes dangerously explosive when it is interrupted by out of control trains derailing, rupturing and spilling fuel. Well, that is news!
Continuing upward, we find that an attorney for the Association of Hazmat Shippers questions the importance of the newsworthy announcement that is the subject of this article: the problem is with the tank cars, flaws known for decades. If tank cars are to be tipped over at high speed, they probably should be more robust.
An expert from a university in Texas is cited to remind the reader that "the volatility of crude varies from one oil field to the next and is driven largely by how heavy it is.". That makes it easier to understand that "the Bakken's light oil may be different" -- it is from one oil field not the next.
A rail safety consultant asserted that "the dangers of crude have long been underappreciated, and need to be communicated to the hundreds of counties and cities across the U.S. that have seen a surge in crude oil trains." Centuries ago (1745), in the Vosges mountains of Alsace, crude from mines in Merckwiller and Pechelbronn was used in small quantities for medicinal purposes. It was then found useful for lamps and heating, as fuel. Certainly the inflammability of crude has been communicated to the New World by now, has it not? More recently, residents of Germany and France (and Luxembourg?) have noted the dangers of shipping nuclear fuels and waste by rail; when will the radioactivity of such materials be known in America, or is it already?
That the volatility of the oil "is particularly important for firefighters and other emergency responders who have to deal with accidents" I do not doubt. The wonder is, or would be if we were sure it was true, that firefighters and other emergency responders along the lines these trains of crude follow are not aware that it is volatile, dangerous, highly (and explosively) inflammable. The mayor of the town where the most recent railroad negligence occurred "agreed that there was no surprise in the federal government's assessment that Bakken crude may be more volatile." So, who is or would be surprised?
Thus, we have seen the argument supporting the newsy assertion:

Following a string of explosive accidents, federal officials say crude oil being shipped by rail from the Northern Plains across the U.S. and Canada may be more flammable than traditional forms of oil.
It is left to us to recognize that derailed trains used to ship crude oil are more likely to provoke explosions and fires of crude. Four options (or more) for treating the problem come to mind.
  1. Stop shipping the Bakken crude oil by rail. hint: use a pipeline instead.
  2. Make the trains as safe a conveyance as a pipeline. Is that possible? If so, at what cost, borne how and by whom?
  3. Stop shipping the Bakken crude oil at all. Not a real option. We cannot expect everyone to drive to North Dakota to fill up if the crude were refined and retailed locally.
  4. Stop extracting the Bakken crude oil. Again, not a real option. America needs this oil.
Have we detected the rationale for making this a Yahoo! headline?

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