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Oil Spill in Salt Lake City
June 14, 2010 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Another oil spill took place this weekend. 21,000 gallons from a Chevron pipeline leaked into the Red Butte River, which runs through the center of Salt Lake City and feeds the ponds in its largest city park, Liberty Park. Also affected was Tracy Aviary.
posted by pashdown (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I live two blocks east of Liberty Park and walk my whippets around it on the weekend. When I explained to them that the walk had been re-routed due to an oil spill, they looked at me uncomprehendingly. "I know," I said. "It doesn't make sense to me either."

And I drove past the Chevron clean-up crew on the way to work this morning. I wondered where the ducks and geese who would normally be in the lake were spending the interregnum.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why oh why couldn't this pipe have spilled on the lush green lawn of the capitol? Let the Rs choke on it. Instead it spilled on Red Butte. *sigh*
posted by msbutah at 10:29 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice aerial view of the nastiness here.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:32 AM on June 14, 2010


There's also another oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, which was only publicly discovered due to radar imaging of the main BP spill. Makes you wonder how many spills there are every day, which just don't get reported.
posted by delmoi at 10:37 AM on June 14, 2010


this is almost incomprehensible to me. and speaking of incomprehension, i know it says there was a break in a 10-inch pipe, but do they have any idea what caused the break? if i were a religious person, i'd take this as a sign of ... something not good.

and now palin is telling obama to 'give me a call. bitch.
posted by msconduct at 10:39 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


.

(For everything.)
posted by limeonaire at 10:39 AM on June 14, 2010


The sooner we wean ourselves off hydrocarbon addiction the better.
posted by arcticseal at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Red Butte Creek runs through the entire East side of Salt Lake City, from where it originates in the foothills. Pipelines for oil and natural gas encircle the city on the foothills, crossing major earthquake faults, right in the middle of neighborhoods.

Red Butte Creek, charmingly, like Emigration, and City Creeks surfaces, here and there as it makes its run, ultimately into Great Salt Lake. A large system of wetland habitat is still in existence West of Salt Lake City, and all the creeks that feed out of the Wasatch Range, ultimately run to the lake. They co-mingle flowing into the Jordan River and then outward.

This creek runs above and under ground, where the City water supply also runs. Occasionally things break in a supply system as old as Salt Lakes, and surely there will be "ballrooms" full of oil for a long time to come, under town. The elaborate storm drain system is in place to catch over flow from the creek systems, and yadda yadda yadda.

Backyards from the East Bench to the edges of the Wetlands miles away are spoiled by the oil. The major pipelines that run along the benches above dense housing, literally trace the pathway of the Wasatch Fault. This is not a problem for people whose eyes were on the bottom line, when this system was built.

Red Butte reservoir used to be the water supply for Fort Douglas, and I doubt that is still the case, but one canyon over is Emigration, with what they call a fifty year flat well, that sits on a big bed of limestone. That water mixes with water from farther down the front, and if there is significant spillage into the ground there, then the city water supply for the middle Salt Lake Valley is compromised. Wells feed water systems all through the West Valley, and Utah knows how to do water, but they are so politicized about ecological issues, blind sided by powerful corporations that make token donations all over the place, they have a hard time verbalizing the importance of protecting ground water from industrial pollution, in the Salt Lake Valley.

Horrible environmental crimes go on on the Wasatch Front, because of the politicization of environmental vs. commercial interests. The Great Salt Lake has already been subdivided in places, maybe just a wish list that you can spot on Google Earth here and there. North Salt Lake has the highest rate of co-joined twins in the nation, not surprisingly a refinery leaked Light Naphtha for years, before blowing up. Mystery rail cars park along wetlands and dump stuff into small feeders to the river and then the lake. The North West edge of the city is rimmed with refineries, and gravel pits. Nothing is sacred in Utah except for religious works and buildings, the rest is up for grabs.

This is kind of a long rant, but even the Wasatch Front, is being gouged by Rocky Mountain Power to run electricity to California, the most beautiful edges of the front, just above the orchard areas of Box Elder County are now toast, visually. The visual beauty of the place doesn't even count a bit, then not the health, or safety of the entire community.

You should have seen the spectacle at Liberty Park, it was like a community disaster drill to the tenth power. At least they got to break out all their toys for once. I think I will go clean ducks today.
posted by Oyéah at 10:46 AM on June 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


and now palin is telling obama to 'give me a call. bitch.

why do i click on things that will make me stabby why
posted by shakespeherian at 10:52 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice aerial view of the nastiness here.

Dog with its head split in half.
posted by griphus at 10:57 AM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


That woman puts a bee in my bonnet too. But Obama supporters calling her "bitch" sounds enough like Palin supporters calling him "nigger" that I wish they'd stop.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:00 AM on June 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


That woman puts a bee in my bonnet too. But Obama supporters calling her "bitch" sounds enough like Palin supporters calling him "nigger" that I wish they'd stop.

Yeah I agree. I dislike her with no regard for her gender or race.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:01 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


why do i click on things that will make me stabby why
posted by shakespeherian at 10:52 AM on June 14 [+] [!]


Yeah... I'm not gonna click that. I learned not to read my parents' Anne Coulter books when I visit home too.
posted by johnnybeggs at 11:04 AM on June 14, 2010


Joe Beese: "...I drove past the Chevron clean-up crew on the way to work this morning..."

Uh huh...
posted by klanawa at 11:06 AM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's also another oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, which was only publicly discovered due to radar imaging of the main BP spill. Makes you wonder how many spills there are every day, which just don't get reported.

You really don't want to Google "Shell, Nigeria".
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


But Obama supporters ...

has nothing to do with why i called her a bitch.
posted by msconduct at 11:17 AM on June 14, 2010


KCPW just sent out a tweet saying the pipe was damaged from an electrical arc from a near by fence. Finger of god methinks.
posted by msbutah at 11:22 AM on June 14, 2010


Makes you wonder if oil really is as scarce as everyone says it is...I mean, if the corporations are wasting this much and not going ape shit about it, there's gotta be something us lay people are missing.
posted by FuzzyLumpkins at 11:27 AM on June 14, 2010


People who dislike being very angry should probably not Google "'Prudhoe Bay','Sarah Palin'" either.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on June 14, 2010


FuzzyLumpkins, it's not that oil is particularly scarce (in terms of human scale). It's that we all use So. Very. Much. of it. Oil's at about $74 a barrel right now; one barrel is 42 gallons, so they've spilled about 476 barrels - about $35 000 worth, on the market right now. Incidentally, the processing plant near Salt Lake City processes 45 000 barrels a day.
posted by Fraxas at 11:58 AM on June 14, 2010


They've got us where they want us:

"Nice park you got here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it, y'know?"

"Nice wildlife refuge you got here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it, y'know?"

"Nice ecosystem you got here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it, y'know?"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:08 PM on June 14, 2010


Makes you wonder if oil really is as scarce as everyone says it is...I mean, if the corporations are wasting this much and not going ape shit about it, there's gotta be something us lay people are missing.

The estimated worldwide *DAILY* oil consumption is about 94 million barrels. 21,000 barrels spilt is about 0.02% of one days' usage.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2010


Let's put this event in some perspective. (Not to minimize the significance of this or any spill, but to put it in context with the other spill currently menacing the Gulf coast.)

CNN reports: Scientists now estimate the leaking BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was releasing 20,000 to 40,000 barrels -- or 840,000 to 1.7 million gallons -- per day through last week, the head of the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday.

And there's been a lot of emphasis lately in the reports on the possibility that the actual figure may end up being closer to 50,000 bpd (if not even higher). So if we make the not unreasonable assumption that the true size of the spill is in the upper end of the range, then roughly 1.7 million gallons a day have been spilling into the Gulf, which brings the current total spilled in the Gulf to potentially as much as:

1,700,000 GPD X 56 days = 95,200,000 gallons

The shell spill discussed here, by comparison, is claimed to be about 21,000 gallons. So viewed as a percent of the total possible size of the Gulf spill, it would be approximately:

(21,000 gallons / 95,200,000) X 100 = 0.02% of the total volume of the Gulf spill
posted by saulgoodman at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2010


In the Palin article, is she confusing the words "CEO" and "Governor," or am I misunderstanding?
posted by Houstonian at 12:18 PM on June 14, 2010


21,000 barrels spilt is about 0.02% of one days' usage.

The Shell spill being discussed here is being reported as 21,000 gallons, not barrels.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:19 PM on June 14, 2010


The Shell spill being discussed here is being reported as 21,000 gallons, not barrels.

My bad - 42 gallons per barrel makes it .0004% of the daily usage then, right?
posted by FatherDagon at 12:23 PM on June 14, 2010


wow - so, in theory, all the oil that's spilled into the gulf is equivalent to only one days worth of worldwide consumption?
posted by symbioid at 12:25 PM on June 14, 2010


But Obama supporters calling her "bitch" sounds enough like Palin supporters calling him "nigger" that I wish they'd stop.

It's OK that I call her a fuckwitted asshole, though, right?
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:25 PM on June 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


wow - so, in theory, all the oil that's spilled into the gulf is equivalent to only one days worth of worldwide consumption?

Taking the original comment at face value, no:

The estimated worldwide *DAILY* oil consumption is about 94 million barrels.

If the Gulf spill is 40,000 BPD, for a rough total of 2,240,000 barrels spilled so far (40,000 X 56 days), and worldwide daily consumption is 94 million barrels, then we've spilled about 2.4% of the world's total daily oil consumption into the Gulf by now.

If it takes another 56 days to stop the flow, we'll hit 5%. If the estimates are still low, and we've actually been spilling 100,000 BPD, then we've already hit more than 5%.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2010


Also, there's a psychological difference between oil-slicked birds 40 miles offshore and those in the middle of a city of 180,000 people.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:04 PM on June 14, 2010


Also, there's a psychological difference between oil-slicked birds 40 miles offshore and those in the middle of a city of 180,000 people.

It's not going to matter. Look, a train derailed on a bridge in the Nemadji forest 18 years ago, and spilled ~40,000 gallons of toxic crap into the Nemadji river. The Nemadji feeds into the St. Louis river, which is more or less the start of Lake Superior.

Which is the basin from which the Duluth area gets it's drinking water from.

The whole town of Superior (~30,000 people) and surrounding communties were evacuated. I, personally, missed some work because people were not allowed into Superior for 3-4 days. (I took the BN settlement for ~1100 dollars and called it square, though)

It's been 18 years. BN still does what it does in the Nemadji forest, and it's all but forgotten.

So too, will this little spill be. This types of shit happens all the time </snoop>
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:00 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


People who dislike being very angry should probably not Google "'Prudhoe Bay','Sarah Palin'" either.

For the oil-spill averse, I'd say visiting MetaFilter is right out today. Or, Planet Earth, for that matter.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 2:14 PM on June 14, 2010


The sooner we wean ourselves off hydrocarbon addiction the better.
posted by arcticseal at 12:43 PM on June 14


the sooner someone finds, creates, or refines an existing fuel/technology and can even come close to matching petroleum's energy density, the sooner that becomes even a remote possibility.
posted by ninjew at 3:42 PM on June 14, 2010


I used to work as a tech writer for a company that sold leak detection software for common carrier pipelines, and still have friends who work there. Around the office they used to say that there are two kinds of pipeline companies when it comes to leak detection: companies who really don't want leaks and companies who want to do the minimum leak detection necessary to meet regulatory requirements. The "we don't know how long it was leaking" doesn't give me a lot of confidence that the operators in this case were in the former category.

Full disclosure: I don't know anything about this case beyond the linked articles and have not discussed it with friends/former colleagues still in the business.
posted by immlass at 4:20 PM on June 14, 2010


the sooner someone finds, creates, or refines an existing fuel/technology and can even come close to matching petroleum's energy density, the sooner that becomes even a remote possibility.

When you factor in the costs of all the externalities currently paid for by picking the public's pocket --the external costs of catastrophes like the oil spill in the Gulf and the spill in the Niger Delta, military and intelligence expenditures directly and indirectly related to securing fossil fuel sources, and climate change--and once you discount the industry's many generous tax subsidies, fossil fuels aren't nearly as cheap as advertised. If we built those costs into the pricing, alternatives like solar power have not only reached but even surpassed grid parity.

Before Reagan took office, the public captured 88% more revenue per acre leased out for oil development than we do now. That means, to maintain their current profits on oil extracted from the Gulf, oil should cost at least 88% more than it currently does, by pre-Reagan era standards. The policies we've had in place since the Reagan years have systematically and deliberately undercut the regulatory environment in order to artificially deflate the costs of extracting fossil fuels to keep them ahead of advances in alternative energy technologies. That's why we never seem to get there, where alternative energies are concerned: because we keep moving the goal posts to ensure we don't, and that's the only reason.
"We're leasing nine times as many acres as we were, and we're still getting fewer dollars than we got before," says William Freudenburg, a former scientific adviser to MMS who coauthored a study of lease prices in 2009.

The study shows that before the 1983 changes, the price per acre averaged more than $2,200; after 1983, the average was $263. It's a decline of 88 percent. Freudenburg says one problem involves knowing what a lease might be worth. The oil companies have the resources to find out. MMS does not.
(Source)
posted by saulgoodman at 6:37 AM on June 15, 2010


Let's see if the drum circle is better with Techron (tm)

(stolen from Cody Eden, local comedian)
posted by mecran01 at 7:06 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


> The estimated worldwide *DAILY* oil consumption is about 94 million barrels. 21,000 barrels spilt is about 0.02% of one days' usage.

Not that it invalidates your point, but you're off by a Saudi Arabia, there: it's about 84M barrels, not 94.
posted by Bangaioh at 10:53 AM on June 15, 2010


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