The US has one inspector for every 5,000 miles of oil pipeline

There are 2.7 million miles of pipeline snaked across the US. Some of the pipes carry hazardous chemicals, others carry crude oil, and still others carry highly pressurized natural gas.  And when it comes to safety, all of them are under the care of 528 government inspectors.  That’s more than 5,000 miles of pipeline or more than twice the length of the United States, per inspector.

The little-known and notoriously understaffed Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, has 188 federal inspectors.  States have another 340 inspectors, all of whom go through PHMSA-certified training.  According to the agency’s website, those two forces combined are “responsible for regulating nearly 3,000 companies that operate 2.7 million miles of pipelines, 148 liquefied natural gas plants, and 7,574 hazardous liquid breakout tanks.”

If US president Donald Trump’s plans to complete both the long-disputed Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines come to fruition, they would add 327 miles and 1,172 miles, respectively, to that burden.  It is unclear if PHMSA will add new inspectors to accommodate that increase, and PHMSA has yet to return a request for comment.

So far, the White House has released no word about Trump’s plans for the Department of Transportation budget, which oversees PHMSA, although his transition team reportedly proposed big cuts for the agency. The cuts would be at odds with Trump’s campaign promise to invest heavily in infrastructure during his first year in office.

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About the Author

Zoe Schlanger is an environmental reporter at Quartz.  She focuses on developing coverage of climate change and environmental policy.   Ms. Schlanger was previously a senior reporter at Newsweek, where she got national pickup on her coverage of Detroit air pollution and won an award for a story on the threat of overpopulation.  She has written for a number of other outlets including The New York Times, Guernica, The Nation, Maddowblog, Gothamist, Guernica, and Talking Points Memo. She has a bachelor’s from NYU in politics and environmental studies and speaks Spanish.

This article first appeared in Quartz.

Cloud Delivery of Product Safety, Dangerous Goods, and Scientific Content

3E Company, a provider of environmental health and safety (EH&S) compliance and information management services, recently announced that its product safety, dangerous goods, and scientific content can now be accessed via the cloud for seamless integration with the SAP® Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) system. 3E’s Ariel® Content for the Cloud is a secure solution for optimized data delivery and maintenance that provides SAP users with improved access to the regulatory and scientific content needed to enhance product and facility compliance. Health and Safety is an integral part of any organization. It is a regulation that keeps workers and their environment safe. Business looks to a Health & Safety Consultant to make sure that they follow the rules and legislations that create a safe working environment.

Cloud delivery of 3E’s continually updated and value-added global regulatory research can reduce the cost and complexity of information technology (IT) setup and maintenance, accelerate content updates, streamline compliance processes, facilitate informed decision making, and mitigate the risk of noncompliance.

Ariel Content for the Cloud enables Internet-based delivery of 3E’s global product safety, dangerous goods, and scientific content. Together with 3E’s supplier data and hazard communication rules, phrases, and templates, Ariel Content for the Cloud offers a comprehensive compliance solution, allowing users to more easily manage inbound and outbound data and documents.

Compared with earlier generation content management approaches, Ariel Content for the Cloud offers a simpler, more efficient way to load and update 3E’s data into SAP EHS. 3E developed the solution to eliminate time consuming and resource intensive manual data maintenance processes, reduce technical infrastructure requirements, simplify deployment, and make software and content updates immediately available for customers. By eliminating the need to host the server and database behind their firewall alongside their SAP EHS application, the flexible architecture and lighter technical footprint help lower the total cost of ownership for clients, particularly for smaller companies or those maintaining multiple SAP environments which HostiServer offers cloud servers that can work with this so I hear and if you decide to use cloud servers it is always smart to have backups that can be managed by a professional IT Managed Services Provider.

3E Company, a Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq:VRSK) business, offers a comprehensive suite of data and solutions for environmental health and safety (EH&S) compliance management. 3E was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Carlsbad, California.

Remediating Groundwater Contamination with Nanotechnology

The NanoRem Bulletin recently published a bulletin describing a pilot study to evaluate the nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI) remediation of arsenic (As) in groundwater.  It was undertaken as part of the NanoRem Project (Taking Nanotechnological Remediation Processes from Lab Scale to End User Applications for the Restoration of a Clean Environment), which was funded through theEuropean Union Seventh Framework Programme.

The pilot project was undertaken at the Nitrastur site in Asturias, Spain which is characterised by high concentrations of As in both soil and groundwater.  The goal of the study was to determine if NZVI could be used for in situ remediation applications for treating arsenic contamination in groundwater.

The pilot study presented an opportunity for testing the application of nanoparticles (NPs) in real site conditions, focusing on the treatment of dissolved As in groundwater.  In order to be able to evaluate the performance of the field application, three objectives were set as part of the injection and monitoring plan:

Objective 1: To determine the effectiveness of arsenic nanoremediation;

Objective 2: To determine the temporal and spatial dispersion of nZVI; and

Objective 3: To assess the potential risks associated with nZVI injection and changing groundwater geochemical conditions.

The results of the pilot study were encouraging, although further study was recommended before commercial application of the technology.

The NanoRem project (2013-2017) focused on facilitating practical, safe, economic and exploitable nanotechnology for in situ remediation.  This was undertaken in parallel with developing a comprehensive understanding of the environmental risk-benefit, market demand, overall sustainability, and stakeholder perceptions of the use of nanoparticles (NPs). Twelve NanoRem Bulletins have been created to transfer the knowledge developed within NanoRem to end-users.

U.S. EPA adds Subsurface Intrusion to the Superfund Hazard Ranking System

The U.S. EPA has finalized a proposal to expand the hazards that qualify sites for the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL).  The U.S. EPA assesses sites using the Hazard Ranking System (HRS), which quantifies negative impacts to air, groundwater, surface water and soil.  The U.S. EPA is adding a subsurface intrusion (SsI) component to the Hazard Ranking System (HRS).

In adding the SsI component to the HRS, sites in the U.S. previously not eligible for the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) based on other exposure or migration pathways may now be eligible after evaluation of the threat posed by intrusion of contaminants into occupied structures from the subsurface.  The subsurface intrusion component will add the subsurface intrusion threat evaluation to a restructured and renamed soil exposure and subsurface intrusion pathway.  The previous HRS (40 CFR 300, Appendix A), promulgated December 14, 1990, did not consider the threat posed by subsurface intrusion in its evaluation of relative risk posed by a site.  In 1990, the available science and sampling methods were not considered sufficient to evaluate subsurface intrusion threats for scoring purposes.  Therefore, the previous HRS did not provide a complete assessment of the relative risk that a site may pose to the public.

 

Hefty Fine for Oil Pipeline Spill in Montana

As reported in the Billings Gazette, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently announced a civil penalty of $1 million (U.S.) against Bridger Pipeline LLC for pipeline spill the resulted in the release of 31,000 gallons of oil into the environment.  The oil made its way into the Yellowstone River and contaminated City of Glendive’s water supply.

The penalty will be paid as $200,000 to the State of Montana’s general fund and at least $800,000 will be earmarked for approved “supplemental environmental projects” aimed at reducing pollution, benefiting public health and restoring the environment, according to the DEQ.

The accident occurred in January 2015 when the oil pipeline owed by Bridger Pipeline LLC split at a weld and oil began spilling into the Yellowstone River, just upstream from Glendive, a City with a population of approximately 2,000.  Around the same time, residents of the City began reporting a bad taste and smell from drinking water.  The community switched to bottled sources.

Analysis of the drinking water found benzene at a level three times the limit for long-term exposure risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Oil was detected in fish captured near the leak site.

Recovery and containment of the spill in the Yellowstone River was made difficult due to ice cover. At times, clean-up efforts were halted due to ice on the river.  Much of the oil traveled downstream under the ice, according to the Montana DEQ.  Oil sheens were reported as far away as Williston, North Dakota, almost 100 miles downstream.  It was estimated that less than 10 percent of the oil was recovered as part of the cleanup efforts.

The busted oil pipeline was the responsibility of Bridger Pipeline LLC, which is one of many companies operated by True Oil out of Casper, Wyoming.  The business had a history of 30 spills and a number of fines prior to the January 2015 incident.

Prior to the announced on the penalty by the Montana DEQ, Bridger Pipeline paid for spill response, cleanup and site management work by the Montana DEQ, according to department spokeswoman Jeni Flatow.  To date, the company has paid $80,000 toward those costs, she said.

The company also paid as much as $100,000 for monitoring equipment at Glendive’s water treatment plant, according to Mayor Jerry Jimison.  “As far as the city of Glendive is concerned, our water plant is back up and functioning flawlessly,” he said.  “We are happy with the final result here in Glendive.”

A separate environmental assessment will continue, which could lead to more fines for Bridger Pipeline.  In October, the Montana Department of Justice announced it would seek compensation for damages caused in the spill.

Robots Mapping and Cleaning Nuclear Sites

As report in Sputnik News, a team of researchers at the University of Manchester in Great Britain has been awarded a grant by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop a robotic system equipped with a wider range of sensors than ever before to map nuclear sites.

The world is home to a large number of sites contaminated by radioactive waste, which require the extent of the contamination to be delineated and remediation to occur.  The currently available methodology for mapping and assessing these radioactive sites are extremely expensive and time consuming, involving humans clad in radioactive protective gear, taking samples, and subsequent lab analysis.  In some cases, remote sensors are used which only offer part of the necessary picture.

The robotic system being development at the University of Manchester features optical spectroscopic techniques, advanced radiation detection methods and modern sensor technologies. Each piece of monitoring equipment on the robot will provide a piece of a holistic jigsaw, together with three dimensional mapping of materials within an environment.

The robot system was inspired by NASA’s Curiosity Rover, the robot used to explore the surface of Mars.  The robot will utilize advanced robotics and control technologies similar to those used in the Mars’ Rover.  It is due to be trialled at nuclear contaminated sites including Sellafield in the UK andFukushima in Japan.

Quebec Company fined $500,000 for Oil Discharge

Valero Energy Inc., Jean Gaulin Refinery (formerly Ultramar Ltd.) based Lévis, Quebec, recently pleaded guilty to six environmental offences and it was sentenced by a judge to pay the sum of $500,000.  The company was order to pay a $120,000 fine for failing to comply with an order issued by an officer from Environment Canada and Climate Change (the Canadian equivalent to the U.S. EPA), thereby committing an offence under paragraph 40(3)(g) of the Fisheries Act.  The court also ordered the company to pay the sum of $380,000, pursuant to paragraph 79.2(f), for the financial benefits it obtained through these violations.

An investigation conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) found that Valero Energy Inc. – Jean Gaulin Refinery had failure to comply with a directive issued by ECCC requiring rehabilitation and environmental monitoring work issued following the deposit of a deleterious substance in water frequented by fish.

ECCC enforcement officers conduct inspections and investigations to verify compliance with the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act.  They ensure that regulated organizations are in compliance with environmental legislation.

As a result of this conviction, Valero Energy Inc. will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.  The Environmental Offenders Registry contains information on convictions of corporations obtained under certain federal environmental laws. The registry contains convictions obtained for offences committed since June 18, 2009 – when the Environmental Enforcement Act received Royal Assent.

The total amount of the fine will be deposited in the Environmental Damages Fund, which is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada.  The Environmental Damages Fund, administered by ECCC and established in 1995, provides a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit our environment.

Networking Opportunities for Emergency Managers in Ontario

Are you: New to Emergency Management or Business Continuity? An Emergency Management Professional looking to give back to your community? A First Responder, Health Professional, Risk Management Professional, Private Consultant, Business Continuity Coordinator, IT Professional, or an Emergency Manager from a public or private organization?

Who we are: The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) is the Home of the Ontario Emergency Management Community; a collaborative network of Emergency Managers comprised of public and private partnerships and memberships.

Our Platform: The website, https://oaem.ca/, serves as the central hub for OAEM’s emergency management community outreach platform that includes associated social media conduits that feed into the main site: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

What we offer:

  • Our professional development sessions and our Annual General Conference are great ways to network with potential clients
  • Host an event or partner with us to promote your organization and build on an established network
  • Join one of our sub-groups that are launching this winter to collaborate with Small to Medium Enterprise’s across private and public forums
  • Mentor a young professional through our new mentorship program
  • Receive our quarterly member newsletter to remain apprised of EM trends, hot topics and upcoming events through the Association

How to get involved?

Head to our website and check us out or follow us on social media! We’re currently working on an Instagram account so we can post content there too! The team is learning how to gain followers on instagram fast! This way, we can reach as many people as possible! Can you help?

Have membership questions? Send an email to: Amber Rushton, Membership Chairat [email protected]

Interested in a sponsorship opportunity and hosting an event? Reach out to our Sponsorship Chair, Paul Hassanally at [email protected]

Researchers Invent a Sponge for Oil Spill Cleanup

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab recently announced that that had invented a new material that could completely revolutionize the way oil spills are cleaned up.

The sponge foam, called Oleo Sponge, can soak up 90 times its own weight in oil before it needs to be wrung out to be reused — and the oil can be recovered.

                                                                                                                   Oleo Sponge

“The material is extremely sturdy. We’ve run dozens to hundreds of tests, wringing it out each time, and we have yet to see it break down at all,” co-inventor Seth Darling said in a release.

Currently, most products for cleaning up oil are single use, and the oil is wasted.  One of the most common products is a sorbent boom — a long tube that’s thrown on the surface of the water to soak up part of the spill, before being removed to be safely disposed of.  It, and other solutions, can be pricey and slow.

Darling and his team tested the sponge at a giant seawater tank at the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility in New Jersey.

The researchers say it could be used to clean harbors and ports, where diesel and oil can accumulate from ships. They say it could also be adapted to clean different substances, by modifying the type of molecule that grabs onto the dirty substance.

The Argonne National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center. The Laboratory was born out of the University of Chicago’s work on the Manhattan Project in the 1940.

RemTEC Summit – March 7th to 9th

The RemTEC Summit delivers a truly unique platform focused on advancing the environmental science and remediation industry.  It is the place where you can hear essential sources of information on technology, application and policy impacting the restoration of contaminated sites from the world’s leading experts within the academic, regulatory and environmental-consulting communities.

The RemTEC Summit is scheduled for March 7th to the 9th at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.