Monday, May 23, 2016

Refugio Retrospective - One Year Lster



Note: One year ago, through our former organization, Disaster Alert News Service (DANS), we provided modeling, analysis, correlations and background on the oil industry in the immediate aftermath of the Refugio Spill. 

This was our first sample of what we can do. No one else had this and both the 'environmental organizations' and the media ignored our news releases with the information.  Some used these.  No one attributed.  Being continuously ripped off by news outlets and organizations which pay large salaries to multiple employees disgusted us.  Some quit.  Dave and I kept going. 

This blog went online in early 2005.  I generally stopped publishing articles here out of frustration since it seemed no one cared about what I was uncovering.  Today I stopped by and noticed large spikes in traffic even though I have published nothing here since January.  Would you like to share  why you come?  I am perplexed.  

For a list of other attempts made to break through visit this page.  I think I have most of the sites on the list.  

The article below was originally published on ACP Vision & Action the  article and announcement site for EcoAlert.

(From DANS SHEET 1, one of two models supplied)
Marplot map of Hydrogen Sulfide from the spill point appears in purple, extending to the Threat Point 2 miles downwind (blue cross) and beyond, as indicated.

   This is one of the worst oil spills in Santa Barbara history. Therefore, we, now EcoAlert, prepared this review for what we knew then and what actions we recommended. This could impact some of the indictments revealed this week and perhaps expand the criminal investigation to hold all responsible parties accountable.
      Shortly after the spill we asked about the locations and timelines of the 5 Plains employees who reportedly worked out of EXXONMobil’s Las Flores Canyon Facility. We recommended that each of the workers involved provide signed affidavits as to their whereabouts and actions. We emphasized that all correspondence including emails, telephone logs and faxes by the operator in the first 24 hrs. be included in the body of evidence in case criminal action is eventually pursued. We provided an article with, time line from the available information. This went out as a news release on July 7th .

We argued that,
Plains knew the names and whereabouts of all of their employees during the first few hours of the spill incident. We further claimed that they knew the condition of their little ten miles of pipe. They surveyed it in 2012 and again in 2015, and they made numerous repairs and external inspections. We know it does not take months to pull up these records on a 10-mile stretch of their 18,000 mile pipeline network. So, if they failed to release this information voluntarily, they should have been subpoenaed.”

        We also questioned EXXONMobil’s role in creating and responding to the pressure anomalies in the Plains Line 901 pipeline located only a short distance from their temporary storage tanks at the oil treatment center. We pointed out that Plains owned only ten miles of pipeline in the Refugio area, the rest of pipeline upstream from the spill is owned by EXXONMobil, who also controlled the offshore platforms where the oil originated.
          Secondly, we criticized the function of the Unified Command in providing explanations and public relations for Plains actions which might have been criminal. We pointed this out at the time. This has been borne out by the 46 count indictment against Plains and their Environmental and Regulatory Compliance officer.
         One year ago we recommended alternatives to the way spills and other similar disasters be handled. We were right and strongly suggest our proposal be adopted.
      Furthermore, we expressed concern for the health of clean-up workers and recommended a list of names and contacts for everyone who was involved with clean-up or remediation be obtained.
      Nothing has been done about this. At the time, we sent information on the symptoms of petroleum poisoning to the Santa Barbara County Medical Society, asking they distribute the information, by email, to their members. The information supplied was based on the BP Gulf Spill and supplied by Science Corp. It was prepared by Michael R. Harbut, MD, Professor, Clinical Medicine Director, Environmental Cancer Initiative, Chief, Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Petroleum poisoning follows patterns. We wanted local physicians to know what to look for.
     Finally, we recommended 21st century technologies (like drones and modeling) to monitor and track the initial stages of the spill dispersal. We had supplied some of these for the first hours after the Refugio Spill.
       Few of these recommendations have been implemented so far, but it is not yet too late. The Attorney General can still subpoena all communications between Plains and EXXONMobil in the region within 24 hours of the spill in the region. The Unified Command can be pressured to release all of its monitoring and modeling data of the spill and its associated air and water pollution dispersal. The health department still needs to collect medical histories on all cleanup workers who are potential victims.
      Ultimately, the entire spill response bureaucracy needs to be updated with the latest technologies and modernized with geospatial real-time assessment and decision making. Grounds existed for criminal indictments immediately after the spill. Essential upgrades and improvements for all of their facilities, including refineries, are long over due, as we have witnessed in California and across our country. (Graphs from article)


Graph by Company


We emphasize, ExxonMobil should also be charged.

       The best way to protect innocent people and minimize the environmental impacts on the ecosystem is to ensure those who ignore the obligation to carry out maintenance and deliberately but people and the environment at risk are held accountable to the full extend of the law, paying reparations which make the victims whole.

David Lincoln & Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Eco-Alert
May 19, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Real Conservative


The short article below was published in Observations from Melinda's World, a sort of journal of short pieces which appeared occasionally in the local paper in Ashtabula, Ohio, where I was marooned for a while by circumstances beyond my control.  I met many good people there - but it was never home.  

A local Congressional race moved me to call all the candidates and ask them for their positions on issues which defined Conservatism in the era of Barry Goldwater, a real American hero. 

The only candidate who came close to Goldwater's positions was the Democrat, who positioned himself as a left-Liberal.  

This is the first in a series to help all of us understand how a slow policy of repositioning can change our world and our perceptions. 

I was, and remain, a real Conservative, translated as Classical Liberal, Libertarian and advocate of compassion, community, and living the values of Christ, Master and Savior.

I'm going to start publishing short articles on Observations about once a week.  They will also appear on Here. 

 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

No. 95 – April 29 – Will the real Conservative Please Stand?

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster  
 
A friend forwarded me a letter written by J. Craig Lewis urging support for Matt Lynch as the Republican candidate for the 14th Congressional District in the coming primary. Lynch is the GOP challenger David Joyce will face on May 6th. Lewis, with fevered urgings worthy of an oncoming tsunami, urged voters to act immediately. The reasons given were Obama Care and the accusation the incumbent, Joyce, is part of a cabal of “sleeper cell socialists” of Liberals.

Both candidates claim to be Conservatives.

Let's take a pause here to understand the word, “Conservative.' Brace yourself.

Today's Republican Party is controlled by Marxists who identify themselves as 'Conservatives.' NeoConservativism was introduced to the GOP by a Trotskyite (Marxist), Irving Kristol, in the 1970s. Kristol was also a follower of Leo Strauss who taught lying is their natural right because they are 'destined to rule.'

Most registered Republicans are, at present, entirely unaware of what has happened over the last 40 years.

Robert Taft, Republican candidate for President from Ohio, was a Conservative. Barry Goldwater was Mr. Conservative. The present misunderstanding of the word, “Conservative,” is the result of a covert operation carried out by Rockefeller Republicans beginning in the 1950s.

A real conservative follows the Constitution, keeping government local and the people in direct control.

Goldwater's left copious quotes which left no doubt about what it meant to be a Conservative. Brevity is a virtue here.

Gays in the Military - “You don’t need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.” ~Barry Goldwater

A woman's right to have an abortion 
- “Today’s so-called ‘conservatives’ don’t even know what the word means. They think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right. It’s not a conservative issue at all.” ~Barry Goldwater

Legalization of marijuana - Goldwater endorsed an Arizona initiative to legalize medical marijuana.

Position on damage to private property and health resulting from oil spills and fracking 
          - “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.” ~Barry Goldwater

So, will the real Conservative please stand up?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Saddam Hussein and the Offer - “Pay Me and I Will Leave”

Still Wondering Why No One Has the Facts -



Why has no one has been willing to write even one article about the matter of the double teaming by the Clintons and Blumenthals, acting for the Bush Administration, to keep Saddam Hussein in Iraq during the build up to the opening of hostilities?
Saddam made contact with the Bush Administration and the Clintons were given the job of persuading him there was no real danger of invasion. This took place in late October or early November, 2002.

Given the timing of events having Saddam leave Iraq would have made it impossible for the Bush White House to get what they wanted. The absence of any Weapons of Mass Destruction to be documented, except those provided by George H. W. Bush, was a bullet in the brain to their plans still reverberating. What if Saddam left, a richer man ready to write his memoirs, perhaps?

It was not to be tolerated. Action was taken. I suspect many other issues very much on point today when the two likely nominees for president at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, both of whom know exactly what went down.

My interest in this is to clear this record and other false statements which have continued to impact me for the last 17 years.

John Fund - Sex, Lies and the Tape

You may remember my name because of the Kerfuffle which took place between my daughter, Morgan Pillsbury, and John Fund, then of the Wall Street Journal. Although the story started in October of 1998 it came into public view when Morgan agreed to be interviewed by John Connolly for an article which was to appear in Talk Magazine. Fund scotched its publication. I was not consulted.

Letter from Fund's attorney, John J. Walsh

The article, “Sex, Lies and the Tape,” appeared on Weasel Search on September 4, 2001. It was a provocative scandal for those onlooking. Full Tape is available here.

The interview was entirely Morgan's doing. I very reluctantly agreed to talk to Connolly to confirm a few points. The article was inaccurate on many specifics, these most likely arising from Morgan's lies. Morgan's history of deceptive behavior started when she was still a child, causing enormous problems for everyone in the family until one by one we stopped talking to her. I was last because I could not believe she could not change.

Back to the subject, Saddam and his offer to leave Iraq, if paid.

Excuse the back story here, necessary to explain how I found out what was happening.

It was spring, 2002. Fund had tried to have Morgan murdered, sending someone to her apartment late at night with a key. The dead bolt was not engaged. Morgan, standing next to the door, which lead directly into the small kitchen, threw herself on the door, dropping the phone. She screeched. I was on the other end of the phone, hearing this. Gabbling into the phone, hysterical, she told me what had happened. I told her to call the doorman. A photo was caught of a burly man leaving the building. On my instructions she then called the police. They never arrived.

A bolt hole was arranged for with a couple in Georgia who knew about the battering Morgan had suffered from Fund earlier.

Now, what I am going to tell you was conveyed to me by Morgan. I had long since learned she could not be trusted to tell the truth. The Weaselsearch Tape came into existence because she and I were arguing about her having had a relationship with Fund. He had denied this to me only a few months earlier. The Tape proved, on this occasion at least, Morgan was telling the truth.

Not trusting someone and wanted them hurt or dead can be two very different matters.

Morgan and I had been looking for someone to help with the Fund matter that spring. Morgan asserted Fund still had items belonging to her. She wanted them returned. I eventually retained an attorney for her named Gary Fish. Otherwise, Morgan handled these issues herself.

Enter Sidney Blumenthal

Morgan called during this period to tell me Sidney Blumenthal, who had refused to help her, unconcerned about the attempt on her life. Email, June 23, 2002.

Around this time someone put a device put on Morgan's computer. She called me, outraged, she said, when the information appeared in drafts of Sydney's book, “Clinton's War.” She then told me she had returned the favor, putting the same thing on Blumenthal's computer. This was apparently true because she started sending me copies of emails Blumenthal wrote his wife and chapters of the book which were passing between him and his editor.

I told her what she was doing was illegal and she should stop but consider reporting Blumenthal to the appropriate authorities.

Morgan ignored my advice, as usual. I was likely being naive, anyway.

There was a lot on my plate and Morgan, then in her early 30s, was not my top priority. I was then, and am still, the sole caretaker for my son, Arthur. He is disabled from two major brain injuries, the first caused by a motorcycle accident, the second from a suicide attempt six months later. These and other family responsibilities, plus being disabled myself, caused me to put Morgan on the back burner when I knew she was physically safe.

Giving up trying to change Morgan, I told her to stop sending me Sidney's emails and other correspondence.

But in November of 2002 Morgan called me up and asked if Uday was the same as E-bay. Morgan did not follow current events unless she was somehow involved herself. She has always been this way.

The conversation resulted in her sending me an email between Blumenthal and his son about a correspondence then ongoing. Max Blumenthal was sending on emails to Uday. Uday was providing information to his father and sending back his father's responses.

The chain of dialog began with Saddam and ended with the Clintons. They, the Clintons, were trying to persuade Saddam the build up to war was just bluff. Saddam, it seemed, had contacted the Bush White House by some method not discussed in correspondence with the offer to leave Iraq if he was paid.

Needless to say this was a shock. Perhaps it is a joke, I thought.

Copying the code part of the email I emailed it to Dr. Dean Ahmad, a good friend of mine, who I knew would be able to tell me where it originated. Dean said it was from the Emirates and well could have originated from Baghdad.

It is possible I am naive but it never occurred to me, and was not included in the correspondence I saw, that the Bush administration knew this was going on. With most Americans, I remembered what had transpired between the Clintons and NeoCons who were now firmly entrenched in the White House. It seemed more likely to me the Clintons, for some reason not in evidence, were doing this for their own purposes. But I thought it was my responsibility to report it to someone – but not Bush, who I well knew could not be trusted.

The only person I knew who I thought I could trust was Donald Steury, who is married to an old childhood friend, Rochelle Wandzera. Rochelle and I had remained close over the years and I saw them when I was in the DC area and they visited me in California when they were out there. Donald was then the historian for the CIA.

This information was conveyed to Donald with Morgan's contact information.

As soon as Donald retired last year the couple stopped talking to me or returning my emails. The matter of Saddam had never been discussed after my report in 2002. Until then Shelly and I chatted regularly but I felt she was becoming increasingly distant.

It is possible I would not have believed Morgan or taken any action if not for having directly discussed the matter with Eric Buchanan. Eric and Martha Buchanan were the couple Morgan was then living with in Roswell, Georgia. Eric confirmed what was happening. He and Morgan had managed to bug Uday's computer, too, he told me. The subject line had read – Women without Veils. The last phone number I had for Eric is:404 276-7351

A short while later Morgan told me the FBI had contacted her and asked she continue to monitor UDay's computer. This surprised me. She told me she was doing so and reporting to them as events unfolded. I had no direct contact.

Morgan called to tell me the ping she was receiving from Uday's computer moved to CIA Headquarters in Virginia when the bunker buster hit Saddam's bunker at the beginning of the war. I turned on the news and the announcement took place a short while later.

Unnerved and shocked I did not ask for any proof. My expectation has been that there would be some kind of inquiry or investigation regarding what the Clinton's had done. Nothing of the kind took place, of course.

Eventually, the billions of unexplained money surfaced. A friend of mine in whom had confided, Connie Ruffley, who runs the Western Office for Judicial Watch, commented this was probably the Saddam Pay-Off cash. That had not occurred to me before her comment about 4 months ago.

As the War in Iraq swung into full action I had a sinking feeling. I was not surprised when, later, the Clintons experienced sudden wealth.

It was impossible not to know someone was working very hard to destroy me financially and damage my credibility over the next years. If you want documentation for anything, just ask. There is another chunk of story here which also points to more forms of conspiracy and corruption from the Bush White House but I'm trying to keep this short.

I tried to get the story out in my book, “Greed – The NeoConning of America,” published in 2004. That did not work.




Why has no one has been willing to write even one article about the matter of the double teaming by the Clintons and Blumenthals, acting for the Bush Administration, to keep Saddam Hussein in Iraq during the build up to the opening of hostilities?
Saddam made contact with the Bush Administration and the Clintons were given the job of persuading him there was no real danger of invasion. This took place in late October or early November, 2002.

Given the timing of events having Saddam leave Iraq would have made it impossible for the Bush White House to get what they wanted. The absence of any Weapons of Mass Destruction to be documented, except those provided by George H. W. Bush, was a bullet in the brain to their plans still reverberating. What if Saddam left, a richer man ready to write his memoirs, perhaps?

It was not to be tolerated. Action was taken. I suspect many other issues very much on point today when the two likely nominees for president at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, both of whom know exactly what went down.

My interest in this is to clear this record and other false statements which have continued to impact me for the last 17 years.

John Fund - Sex, Lies and the Tape

You may remember my name because of the Kerfuffle which took place between my daughter, Morgan Pillsbury, and John Fund, then of the Wall Street Journal. Although the story started in October of 1998 it came into public view when Morgan agreed to be interviewed by John Connolly for an article which was to appear in Talk Magazine. Fund scotched its publication. I was not consulted.

Letter from Fund's attorney, John J. Walsh

The article, “Sex, Lies and the Tape,” appeared on Weasel Search on September 4, 2001. It was a provocative scandal for those onlooking. Full Tape is available here.

The interview was entirely Morgan's doing. I very reluctantly agreed to talk to Connolly to confirm a few points. The article was inaccurate on many specifics, these most likely arising from Morgan's lies. Morgan's history of deceptive behavior started when she was still a child, causing enormous problems for everyone in the family until one by one we stopped talking to her. I was last because I could not believe she could not change.

Back to the subject, Saddam and his offer to leave Iraq, if paid.

Excuse the back story here, necessary to explain how I found out what was happening.

It was spring, 2002. Fund had tried to have Morgan murdered, sending someone to her apartment late at night with a key. The dead bolt was not engaged. Morgan, standing next to the door, which lead directly into the small kitchen, threw herself on the door, dropping the phone. She screeched. I was on the other end of the phone, hearing this. Gabbling into the phone, hysterical, she told me what had happened. I told her to call the doorman. A photo was caught of a burly man leaving the building. On my instructions she then called the police. They never arrived.

A bolt hole was arranged for with a couple in Georgia who knew about the battering Morgan had suffered from Fund earlier.

Now, what I am going to tell you was conveyed to me by Morgan. I had long since learned she could not be trusted to tell the truth. The Weaselsearch Tape came into existence because she and I were arguing about her having had a relationship with Fund. He had denied this to me only a few months earlier. The Tape proved, on this occasion at least, Morgan was telling the truth.

Not trusting someone and wanted them hurt or dead can be two very different matters.

Morgan and I had been looking for someone to help with the Fund matter that spring. Morgan asserted Fund still had items belonging to her. She wanted them returned. I eventually retained an attorney for her named Gary Fish. Otherwise, Morgan handled these issues herself.

Enter Sidney Blumenthal

Morgan called during this period to tell me Sidney Blumenthal, who had refused to help her, unconcerned about the attempt on her life. Email, June 23, 2002.

Around this time someone put a device put on Morgan's computer. She called me, outraged, she said, when the information appeared in drafts of Sydney's book, “Clinton's War.” She then told me she had returned the favor, putting the same thing on Blumenthal's computer. This was apparently true because she started sending me copies of emails Blumenthal wrote his wife and chapters of the book which were passing between him and his editor.

I told her what she was doing was illegal and she should stop but consider reporting Blumenthal to the appropriate authorities.

Morgan ignored my advice, as usual. I was likely being naive, anyway.

There was a lot on my plate and Morgan, then in her early 30s, was not my top priority. I was then, and am still, the sole caretaker for my son, Arthur. He is disabled from two major brain injuries, the first caused by a motorcycle accident, the second from a suicide attempt six months later. These and other family responsibilities, plus being disabled myself, caused me to put Morgan on the back burner when I knew she was physically safe.

Giving up trying to change Morgan, I told her to stop sending me Sidney's emails and other correspondence.

But in November of 2002 Morgan called me up and asked if Uday was the same as E-bay. Morgan did not follow current events unless she was somehow involved herself. She has always been this way.

The conversation resulted in her sending me an email between Blumenthal and his son about a correspondence then ongoing. Max Blumenthal was sending on emails to Uday. Uday was providing information to his father and sending back his father's responses.

The chain of dialog began with Saddam and ended with the Clintons. They, the Clintons, were trying to persuade Saddam the build up to war was just bluff. Saddam, it seemed, had contacted the Bush White House by some method not discussed in correspondence with the offer to leave Iraq if he was paid.

Needless to say this was a shock. Perhaps it is a joke, I thought.

Copying the code part of the email I emailed it to Dr. Dean Ahmad, a good friend of mine, who I knew would be able to tell me where it originated. Dean said it was from the Emirates and well could have originated from Baghdad.

It is possible I am naive but it never occurred to me, and was not included in the correspondence I saw, that the Bush administration knew this was going on. With most Americans, I remembered what had transpired between the Clintons and NeoCons who were now firmly entrenched in the White House. It seemed more likely to me the Clintons, for some reason not in evidence, were doing this for their own purposes. But I thought it was my responsibility to report it to someone – but not Bush, who I well knew could not be trusted.

The only person I knew who I thought I could trust was Donald Steury, who is married to an old childhood friend, Rochelle Wandzera. Rochelle and I had remained close over the years and I saw them when I was in the DC area and they visited me in California when they were out there. Donald was then the historian for the CIA.

This information was conveyed to Donald with Morgan's contact information.

As soon as Donald retired last year the couple stopped talking to me or returning my emails. The matter of Saddam had never been discussed after my report in 2002. Until then Shelly and I chatted regularly but I felt she was becoming increasingly distant.

It is possible I would not have believed Morgan or taken any action if not for having directly discussed the matter with Eric Buchanan. Eric and Martha Buchanan were the couple Morgan was then living with in Roswell, Georgia. Eric confirmed what was happening. He and Morgan had managed to bug Uday's computer, too, he told me. The subject line had read – Women without Veils. The last phone number I had for Eric is:404 276-7351

A short while later Morgan told me the FBI had contacted her and asked she continue to monitor UDay's computer. This surprised me. She told me she was doing so and reporting to them as events unfolded. I had no direct contact.

Morgan called to tell me the ping she was receiving from Uday's computer moved to CIA Headquarters in Virginia when the bunker buster hit Saddam's bunker at the beginning of the war. I turned on the news and the announcement took place a short while later.

Unnerved and shocked I did not ask for any proof. My expectation has been that there would be some kind of inquiry or investigation regarding what the Clinton's had done. Nothing of the kind took place, of course.

Eventually, the billions of unexplained money surfaced. A friend of mine in whom had confided, Connie Ruffley, who runs the Western Office for Judicial Watch, commented this was probably the Saddam Pay-Off cash. That had not occurred to me before her comment about 4 months ago.

As the War in Iraq swung into full action I had a sinking feeling. I was not surprised when, later, the Clintons experienced sudden wealth.

It was impossible not to know someone was working very hard to destroy me financially and damage my credibility over the next years. If you want documentation for anything, just ask. There is another chunk of story here which also points to more forms of conspiracy and corruption from the Bush White House but I'm trying to keep this short.

I tried to get the story out in my book, “Greed – The NeoConning of America,” published in 2004. That did not work.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What is a NeoCon?

A Brief Comment -   
adjective: neoconservative; adjective: neo-conservative
  1. 1.
    “relating to or denoting a return to a modified form of a traditional viewpoint, in particular a political ideology characterized by an emphasis on free-market capitalism and an interventionist foreign policy.”
Not modified, reversed.

No one has seen a single example of a real free-market in decades. A real free-market cannot exist where it is controlled by government. Did you think, perhaps, the petroleum industry is an example of a free-market? Hardly, it is crony capitalism or geriatric mercantilism.

Another real Conservative said, “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.” ~Barry Goldwater

And Conservatives, traditionally, were accused of being isolationists because of their opposition to war. Taft, the most prominent Conservative before WWII, resisted voting for war and was attacked for his stance by everyone.


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Oil Wars Continue - The Refugio Spill - Rex & Greg on the Beach



By Melinda Pillsbury-Foster 
DANS, CEO



Rex and Greg having a confab on the Beach in Santa Barbara 


Let's start at the beginning.  The oil which poured out of the pipe originated from the Hondo Drilling Platform, owned by ExxonMobil.  It was transported via ExxonMobil pipes to Las Flores, an ExxonMobil Facility, and then began its transport by Plains All American Pipeline through the Plains connection to the ExxonMobil Tank. 


10:45:00 AM

Five Plains employees are at work in a room at ExxonMobil's Las Flores Pump Station where their company's ten miles of pipeline begins a few feet from one of two massive tanks.  

A mechanical issue is reported.  The pipeline, carrying Exxon crude from Hondo, shuts down at Sisquoc Pumping Station due to unknown reasons.  At 10:47AM, approximately, Las Flores shuts down, reporting a pressure surge.  

Exxon owns the three drilling platforms, Hondo, Heritage and Harmony, located in the Santa Barbara Channel.  Exxon owns the pipeline which feeds into the Las Flores  Canyon Processing Facility along with the room provided to the five Plains employees who oversee the exit of Pipe 901 from Las Flores.  The Refugio Spill will take place three miles into the 901. 
                                                                               

ExxonMobil Infrastructure involved in the Refugio Spill

The ten miles of pipe owned by Plains on this route, known as Pipeline 901,  had been cited by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)  as needing immediate repair in the Corrective Action Order issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), dated June 3, 2015.  Plains had been aware of the problems since the test was done a month earlier, two weeks before the spill took place on May 19th.   

 Las Flores Facility, owned by ExxonMobil.  Red Line is Pipe 901.

The May 5th In-Line Inspection (ILI) revealed four areas requiring, “ immediate investigation and remediation” on Pipe 901.  Loss of original metal was reported as “54 and 74% of the original pipe wall thickness.”  

Because of the corrosive nature of crude, high temperatures used for transport and weathering pipes need constant monitoring.  

The Hondo Crude flowing through Pipe 901 on May 19th was heated to 126 degrees so it could be transported.  The profile for the Hondo Crude includes Sulphur 4.3 % by volume (sour oil) .  

When heated, the Sulfur will be ready, if exposed to oxygen, to react, becoming Hydrogen Sulfide, a highly poisonous gas.  The Hondo Crude also contains Benzene, which also becomes gaseous when released to the air.  Both, being heavier than air, could have, absent a breeze, flowed down to the beach.   

The five Plains employees controlled a valve in a small building, like a maintenance shed, a few feet inside the Exxon Facility.  

 Pipeline 901 crosses the manifold carrying the oil, owned by ExxonMobil.

150 feet from the tank is a manifold where pipes  come together.  This is exposed.  A spur crosses the main pipeline.  The pipelines, perpendicular to the main line,  lead to  a small building about six car lengths long and 2 car lengths wide where it stops.  

This is where the valve is believed to be located.   It is also the place where the Smart Pig, used to test Pipe 901 on May 5th was inserted, traveling all the way to Refugio and beyond.  The Smart Pig reported to Plains' contractors, who let Plains know, there were problems with 901, providing them with the data.  

Smart Pig
Plains had not been ordered by Jeffrey D. Wiese, Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, to stop pumping  so they continued to do so.  It was a judgment call.  

10:47:00AM

Sisquoc Pump Station shuts down both the backup and main pumps.  

10:50:00AM

The Refugio Spill has not yet taken place.  

The pumps at Las Flores shut down due to a high pressure reading.  An operator restarts the pumps at the Sisquoc Pump Station, which is about 50 miles north of the spill site.  

10:53:00AM

Between 10:53 an 10:55 first Las Flores and then Sisquoc restart pumping. 

How much pressure is too much when the pipe is already having issues?  This is a judgment call.  
Pressure gauges are old technology and subject to multiple misreadings.  Many oil companies now use Ultrasound monitoring, which provides precise bi-directional and highly dynamic flow measurement and the non-intrusive clamp-on technology to ascertain flow rates, a better indicator. 
Plains is still on old technology in other ways as well.  No automatic shut off valve is on the system although Santa Barbara County requires this.  

11:15:00AM

The Sisquoc back-up pump goes down, followed by the main pump, according to the company. It is not possible to restart the pumping.  At Las Flores pumping continues.  

11:30:00AM

Due to “pressure anomalies” occur that morning, a Plains operator at the Midland Control Center in Texas remotely shuts down the ruptured pipe and finally stopping the pump at Las Flores.  

11:42:00AM

A 9-1-1 call reporting strong oily odors comes in to the Fire Department Dispatch Center for Gaviota. In response, a crew from County Fire Station 18 goes out on the bluffs to investigate the strong odor and follows it down to the beach at Refugio where 901 is bleeding oil through the culvert, onto the beach and into the Pacific Ocean.  
The potentially fatal concentration of Hydrogen Sulfide and Benzene, dispersed to the area north and east, will have dissipated from its maximum ten minute high by the time emergency personnel arrive.  
It could have been worse. 

Exxon and Plains appear, by reports, to follow the same protocols for monitoring flow in the pipelines in Santa Barbara County, this being a pressure reading.  No mention is made of ultrasound technology.  


Some questions naturally occur.  

What did Exxon know about the problems with 901 and when did they know it?  

Why is Exxon not also under investigation?  Why have litigants failed to name the corporation in their law suits, as is usual in similar circumstances?  

Why wasn't ExxonMobil asked to answer questions at the June 26th Hearing in Santa Barbara?   

Does Exxon have any data which is relevant to the ongoing investigation?  

Now, how about some answers!


Company Safety Records:  

Plains All American Pipeline - Environmental Record 
Our thanks to Channel Keepers

ExxonMobil - Environmental Record
Our thanks to the great people who provided the original research.


Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the CEO of DANS, Disaster Alert News Service, and a life long advocate for the environment and social justice.  DANS provides technical background on issues of petroleum using the expertise of DANS Director, David Lincoln, a whistleblower on the oil companies and qualified expert witness on their practices and technologies.