Posts Tagged ‘Yellowstone River oil spill’

Pipelines: More on the Montana – Cameroon connection

Farmer Jean Edzoa standing on the pipeline easement near Yaounde. He and other farmers in the area complain that "nothing grows" around the pipeline. Photo by Christiane Badgley

I recently wrote about ExxonMobil’s July oil spill in Montana and what lessons the Yellowstone River accident may have for Cameroon.

The same day an article in The New York Times, Pipeline Spills Put Safeguards Under Scrutiny, analyzed the regulation and oversight of the 167,000-mile system of hazardous liquid pipelines crisscrossing the United States.

The article describes a federal monitoring agency that is, “chronically short of inspectors and lacks the resources needed to hire more, leaving too much of the regulatory control in the hands of pipeline operators themselves…”

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Exxon spill in Montana: lessons for Cameroon?

A member of the Blackfeet Tribe takes 'water' samples for a community hospital water lab near Cut Bank Creek, Mont. Photo: Destini Vaile/AP

On July 1 an ExxonMobil underground pipeline ruptured near Laurel, Montana, spilling tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River. Montana is a long way from Africa, but this spill has me thinking about the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline, another ExxonMobil underground pipeline that passes below several rivers where water pressure and erosion are real concerns.

The 30 meter wide pipeline easement is supposed to be kept cleared at all times. This pipeline marker was buried under thick brush in clear violation of safety regulations. Photo by Christiane Badgley

Environmentalists in Cameroon and Chad have long been concerned about the safety of the 1070 km Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline and have stated repeatedly that COTCO (ExxonMobil pipeline operations in Cameroon) has not provided reliable information about its real capacity to respond in the event of an oil spill. Much of the pipeline crosses relatively remote and hard-to-access areas (few or no roads) and many question COTCO’s assertions that response teams could quickly travel to the scene of any incident.

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