Turns Out Tioga Pipeline Spill May Have Been Due To An “Act Of God”

lightning-11

Ever since news broke that a Tesoro-owned pipeline had dumped some 22,000 barrels of oil into a farmer’s field near Tioga there’s been a scramble by the enemies of fossil fuels and their allies in the media to craft a narrative about oil industry negligence. Not to mention claims that North Dakota’s state government tried to cover it up.

But the oil spill was reported immediately by the oil company to the proper government authorities. Within hours of the spill being detected local, state and federal authorities were all in the loop. Containment and clean-up efforts were equally as swift. And now, it turns out the cause of the spill probably was probably mother nature:

Federal regulators say a lightning strike may have caused a pipeline rupture that spilled more than 20,000 barrels of oil in northwestern North Dakota.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (TPHMSA) said Thursday that a preliminary investigation “points to a strong electrical discharge as the cause of the failure.”

This preliminary finding, if upheld, doesn’t let Tesoro entirely off the hook. Lightening may have damaged the pipeline and caused the leak, but there’s still a question of how the oil was able to flow for so long from the leak without Tesoro noticing. Because Tesoro never picked up on it. It was the landowner who ultimately detected the spill and contacted authorities.

And there’s the question of how pipelines can be protected from future lightning strikes.

Still, though, this does take some wind out of the anti-oil sales. Unless they plan to chart a course into the unregulated world of lightening strikes.

In related news, the feds have given Tesoro permission to restart the pipeline.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • borborygmi45

    Wow even God is against Fracking, who knew

    • Onslaught1066

      Who’s against what now, liberal?

      • borborygmi45

        Is God a who or a what?

        • Thresherman

          It took you 5 hours to come up with that? Not exactly divine inspiration.

          • borborygmi45

            I am sorry but I actually work for a living so I can’t respond in the timely manner you wish.

          • Thresherman

            I see, are you implying that I do not?

          • borborygmi45

            Can’t see another reason for your rebuttal

        • Onslaught1066

          Is who a who or a what now, liberal?

    • henrycat

      This has got nothing to do with “fracking…….” do a little homework…

      • borborygmi45

        Oh, I am sorry I forgot to put sarcasm in the entry. I pulled some tails and they squealed. Thanks for amusing me 1066 and Hcat

        • henrycat

          Ok… no sweat….

          • borborygmi45

            and vee are vatching you.

  • henrycat

    Lightning strikes are the third most common cause of pipeline leaks and in doing a little research, it appears that there is no preventative measure to stop this phenomenon.. Regarding spotting the leak early on, if the soil makeup is “clay gumbo,” it could be trapped for some long period of time.

  • Yukon

    I have yet to hear how long they think the pipeline was leaking. I heard it was a 1/4 inch hole, if this I true, I would think it would take months to loose that much oil. I can see why it wasn’t noticed, I would think a leak that small would be such a small % of oil going thru the pipe on a daily basis. Not saying it is right they didn’t notice but I can see how it wasn’t noticed.

    • henrycat

      Depends upon the operating pressure of the pipeline….. If it is about 100-150psi because the pipe is old, It would put out a pretty good stream through a 1/4″ hole…. Don’t know about you but as a comparison, by the time I have a few beers and finish writing my name in the snow, it seems like I could have filled a 55 gallon drum……

      • Thresherman

        It most likely started as a pinhole and then slowly grew bigger until the leak became noticeable. That takes time.

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    I thought Rob was an atheist.

    • borborygmi45

      He says he is. I would think “happenstance” have served him better then “Act of God” although it doesn’t have the same impact. ” Turns Out Tioga Pipeline Spill May Have Been Happenstance” also known as Sh!t Happens. Turns Out Tioga Pipeline Spill May Have Been Sh!t Happening” ORRRRRRR maybe he has found GOD since his kids have been going to a Christian School …….Who knows .

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        Or maybe Act of God is a common expression.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Act of God is a common expression

      • borborygmi45

        It could be.

      • Thresherman

        Act of God is actually a legal definition and is commonly used in contracts.

        • PK

          An Act of God under contract law does mean a situation beyond anyone’s control, but this situation doesn’t fall under contract law. Rob wrongly asserts that Tesoro can’t be held at fault for the lightning causing the hole, just for not catching the leak sooner. This isn’t true at all so the use of the phrase, “Act of God” in the title is wrongly applied in relationship to the context of the article.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I asserted no such thing.

            Tesoro still has liability on several fronts, and this is a preliminary finding.

          • PK

            “This preliminary finding, if upheld, doesn’t let Tesoro entirely off the
            hook. Lightening may have damaged the pipeline and caused the leak, but there’s still a question of how the oil was able to flow for so long from the leak without Tesoro noticing.” Rob Port

            “Rob wrongly asserts that Tesoro can’t be held at fault for the lightning
            causing the hole, just for not catching the leak sooner.” PK

            The phrase “”Act of God””(in quotations for some reason) was used for the cause of the leak.

            “Tesoro still has liability on several fronts”. This statement makes me think you didn’t understand what i was saying. Hopefully it’s more clear now.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          That’s not how I was using it

          • PK

            Really? The context of your post seems to contradict that.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Well that’s probably because you’re reading that context into it on purpose so you can argue.

            ;-)

          • PK

            The “”Act of God””, “doesn’t let Tesoro entirely off the hook.”

            I don’t think i’ve taken anything you’ve said out of context.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I didn’t say you took anything out of context. I said you’re inventing context which simply isn’t there.

            What that sentence means is that Tesoro, if this finding is ultimately upheld, can’t be held responsible for the cause of the leak.

            They can still be held responsible, possibly, for not detecting it. Or not being prepared. Or being negligent in some other way.

          • PK

            “Rob wrongly asserts that Tesoro can’t be held at fault for the lightning causing the hole,” PK

            “I asserted no such thing.” Rob

            “Tesoro, if this finding is ultimately upheld, can’t be held responsible for the cause of the leak.” Rob

            And you accuse me of just wanting to argue? My goodness, i knew exactly what you were saying. And if i may argue the original point, Tesoro can still be blamed for the leak, even if it was caused by lightning. Corrosion is a natural process as well, so it could be ruled that Tesoro didn’t do enough to prevent damage from lightning, another common natural process.

          • JoeMN

            so it could be ruled that Tesoro didn’t do enough to prevent damage from lightning, another common natural process.
            _______

            Your home contains materials which makes it somewhat resistant to fire.
            Yet there is no guarantee, implicit or otherwise that your home will not burn in the event of a lightning strike

          • PK

            Ok, thank you very much.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            PK, I hate to burst your bubble, but you cannot blame Tesoro for lightening coming down out of the sky and striking the pipeline.

            Maybe that’s something you heard on the Alex Jones show, but the rest of us live out here in the real world.

            As I noted in the post, Tesoro could still be held liable for other things including not being sufficiently prepared for such a leak.

            I’m sure you’ll want to continue arguing the minutiae of this point, but I’m off to go spend my time with grownups. Have a great weekend!

          • PK

            You’re the one acting like a child. Lightning could be just the catalyst to an underlining issue that could’ve been foreseen. There are a number of variables, so to declare, “Act of God, Tesoro did no wrong relating to pipeline integrity” is quite premature. Now run along to your room young man.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            You’re the one acting like a child. Lightning could be just the catalyst to an underlining issue that could’ve been foreseen.

            Could be. Which is why I noted that Tesoro isn’t completely off the hook.

          • borborygmi45

            Oh just great, really peachy..now you tell me Alex Jones doesn’t live in the real world.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Sorry to spoil it for you!

            I tune in every once in a while. He cracks me up. Reminds me of Phil Hendry when he would do put-on characters just to rile up callers.

            Except, I think Jones actually believes what he says.

        • borborygmi45

          But should an Atheist use that term, perhaps an agnostic. An act of a supernatural powerful entity…maybe,,,,but I can’t prove it so maybe not ,doesn’t roll of the tongue like GOD.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I wasn’t an atheist growing up. I’m actually a confirmed Lutheran. I went to church most of my childhood like a good Norwegian.

            So, ingrained my lexicon are references to the almighty.

            It’s hard to unlearn. But “act of god” is a common phrase, both in legalese and common speech. I really don’t see what the big deal is.

      • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

        Are you sure you aren’t going overboard and becoming a religious wacko?

        • borborygmi45

          Hairy Krishna, Hairy Krishna………and they are bald….another one of life
          ‘s great mysteries

        • borborygmi45

          I am afraid that humor is dead on this board Whistler. You are the wind beneath my sails.

          • henrycat

            ………

          • borborygmi45

            x10

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