Ark. Oil Spill Probe Falls to Understaffed Agency With Industry Ties

"Underfunded agency faces the challenge of finding answers to key questions: When did Exxon's pipeline rupture and when did the company learn of the spill?"

"Just a day after roughly one million gallons of heavy Canadian crude oil spilled into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board announced it was launching a formal investigation into the incident. It quickly set up shop in a local hotel and conducted dozens of interviews with pipeline workers, local officials and residents. It did field and laboratory analysis of the ruptured pipeline in its own labs. And its investigators pored over the responsible company's records to recreate what happened.

After two years of work, the agency released the results of its investigation: The spill was caused by major lapses in safety by Enbridge Inc., the pipeline's owner and operator, and by "weak regulations" for the entire U.S. pipeline network.

The NTSB has taken none of these steps since the March 29 pipeline break in Mayflower, Ark., where an estimated 210,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude oil spilled into a neighborhood of neat brick houses. In fact, the independent federal agency hasn't investigated any oil pipeline spills since Kalamazoo, even though information about the risks of transporting oil through pipelines is in high demand as thousands of miles of new pipelines—including the Keystone XL—are being proposed."

Katherine Bagley reports for InsideClimate News    April 22, 2013.

Source: InsideClimate News, 04/23/2013