Arctic, clean water, corruption, crude oil, DOJ, environment, Exxon, Exxon Mobil, ExxonMobil Pipeline company, Kara Sea, Laurel Montana, Montana, NORM, oil and gas, oil spill, pipeline, radioactive waste, resource extraction, Rex Tillerson, risk management, TENORM, Tillerson, water, Yellowstone River
Now US Secretary of State nominee, “Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, testified that “when these things [oil spills] happen, we are not well-equipped to deal with them.” Over the last 20 years nothing has changed. The industry and even the government has substantially invested in new technologies to drill in deeper water and deeper into the Earth, but little has been invested in safety or oil spill response and clean-up.(US Senator Menendez, June 22, 2010). https://www.menendez.senate.gov/news-and-events/press/menendez-finds-that-mmss-oil-spill-response-research-tank-is-inoperable So, Tillerson wants sanctions dropped against Russia to export equipment to drill the Arctic but is clueless on clean-up? Furthermore, the Kara Sea, where they want to drill, is full of radioactive waste, some barrels of it have been leaking since the 1990s, since no one has figured out how to clean-up that even more lethal problem. Given the low price of oil and the high price of radioactive waste disposal one can but wonder if it’s really oil drilling at stake or nuclear waste disposal, even if it is illegal. Or, perhaps they have found a loophole. Isn’t there one related to offshore rigs and TENORM (technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials)?
Governor Steve Bullock, Attorney General Tim Fox, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of the Interior today announced a proposed settlement with ExxonMobil Pipeline Company to resolve claims stemming from the Yellowstone River July 1, 2011 oil spill. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company has agreed to pay $12 million in natural resource damages to the federal government and the State of Montana as Trustees for the natural resources devastated by the spill. A proposed consent decree was filed in federal court today. The State and federal government have also issued a draft restoration plan that will take action to address the natural resource damage. “Montanans deserve and expect ExxonMobil Pipeline Company to be held accountable for the damages they caused to Montana’s Yellowstone River, our communities, and our economy,” said Governor Bullock. “This proposed settlement goes a long way in protecting Montana’s Yellowstone River, one of the last, great, free-flowing rivers in the United States that plays a vital role in our strong $6 billion outdoor economy.“
Attorney General Tim Fox added, “This proposed settlement was reached through the efforts of the Montana Department of Justice’s Natural Resource Damage Program and the U.S. Departments of Justice and the Interior. Under a joint State-Federal restoration plan, also issued today for public comment, these funds will be used to restore and improve the environmental and recreational resources of this great river.” “This settlement is an important part of the work being done to ensure that the 2.7 million miles of oil, gas, and liquid chemical pipeline in this country remain safe, and that when incidents occur, the operators assume responsibility for cleanup,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter. “This settlement was the product of significant collaborative work by federal and state negotiators over a number of years, and sends a strong message to operators in this field that they must assume the costs and risks, as well as reaping the benefits, of extracting natural resources.”
“This proposed settlement will restore this great natural resource for the people and the environment of Montana and its benefits will flow for generations to come,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This agreement will require Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company to make this river – upon which both people and wildlife depend for enjoyment and sustenance – whole again.”
The State and federal government are seeking public comment on both the proposed consent decree and the draft restoration plan.
On July 1, 2011, a 12-inch diameter pipeline (Silvertip Pipeline) owned by ExxonMobil Pipeline Company ruptured near Laurel, Montana, resulting in the discharge of crude oil into the Yellowstone River and floodplain. The discharge is estimated to have been approximately 63,000 gallons (about 1,500 barrels) of oil. The discharge occurred during a high-flow event, affecting approximately 85 river miles and associated floodplain. Oil from the spill, along with the cleanup activities, harmed natural resources including fish and other aquatic life, birds (including migratory birds), wildlife, large woody debris piles, aquatic habitat, terrestrial habitat, recreational use, and the services provided by these natural resources. These public natural resources are under Trusteeship of the State of Montana and the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Oil Pollution Act and other laws.
The Trustees evaluated a range of restoration alternatives that would provide resource services to compensate the public for losses pending natural recovery of resources injured by the oil spill. The Trustees have identified preferred restoration alternatives designed to address the resource injuries. The Trustees plan to work with project partners such as local, state, and federal agencies and nonprofit organizations and landowners to implement the projects.
The draft restoration plan is available online at https://dojmt.gov/lands/yellowstone-river-oil-spill-July-2011/ and by request at the address below. The public comment period on the draft restoration plan will close at 5:00 PM on Monday, October 31, 2016. Written comments on the draft restoration plan should be sent via e-mail to: NRDP@mt.gov with “Yellowstone restoration plan comment” in the subject line. Or by U.S. mail to:
Natural Resource Damage Program
PO Box 201425
Helena, MT 59620-1425
The Trustees will host a public meeting to summarize key components of the restoration plan and receive oral comment. The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 12, at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks conference room at 2300 Lake Elmo Drive in Billings, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The Trustees will review and consider comments received during the public comment period when preparing the final restoration plan.
Today’s proposed settlement, lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, is subject to a 30-day public comment period following notification in the Federal Register and final approval by the court. To view the consent decree or to submit a comment, visit the department’s website: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html”
While not as bad as radioactive discharges, many of which will be in the environment for thousands and even millions of years, and stay inside the body for extended periods due to ingestion, the oil from petroleum spills can take hundreds of years to degrade in some environments, such as Tundra. Marshland and ground water are also very probablematic to clean-up. See: “The Basics of Oil Spill Cleanup“, Third Edition, By Merv Fingas (Some can be read online.) Furthermore, fossil fuel oil and gas development concentrate naturally existing radioactive materials, such as radium – NORM- into TeNORM (Technologically enhanced Naturally Occurring Radionuclides). Once again, this last is not as highly radioactive/concentrated as uranium mining, or discharges from the nuclear fuel chain, but as there is no safe dose of ionizing radiation. Thus, it is still deadly.
Russian government owned Rosneft and Exxon Mobil “are confident that we can safely drill in the Kara Sea and avoid hazards from radioactive materials on the seabed“, Exxon Mobil said.http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-21119774. (“Russia explores old nuclear waste dumps in Arctic” By Laurence Peter BBC News, 25 January 2013)
Russian oil companies have already worked out how to make messes without Exxon’s help!
PHOTO-IMAGE NOTE: We removed the Montana DOJ icons from the top picture in case reproduction of the icon is not allowed as is sometimes the case. Thus, the top photo isn’t a perfect original as removal was via cloning. It is to give an idea of the beauty before and the ugly afterwards.