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Monday, August 12, 2013

Report Says Exxon Knew Pegasus Pipeline Was at Risk, But Still Pushed it Harder

From InsideClimate News:
Since at least 2006,ExxonMobil has known that its 1940s-era Pegasus pipeline had many manufacturing defects like the faulty welds that recently sent crude oil spewing into an Arkansas neighborhood. The company also knew that the seams of the pipe have been identified by the industry as having another dangerous flaw: They are especially brittle, and therefore more prone to cracking. 
"Having a crack or flaw in a pipeline is a whammy," said Patrick Pizzo, a professor emeritus in materials engineering at San Jose State University. "But having a crack embedded in brittle material, such as the heat-affected zones of the pipeline seams—that's a double whammy." 
Despite those inherent risks, Exxon added new stresses to the Pegasus by fundamentally changing how it used the line. It began carrying a heavier type of oil, reversed the direction of the flow and increased the amount of oil that surged through it. 
Old pipelines that are well maintained and carefully monitored can withstand such changes, experts say. But doing so is significantly harder for lines that—like the Pegasus—were built from pre-1970 pipe that is predisposed to cracking and seam corrosion problems.
Read the whole article here.

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