April 3rd, 2009

Volcanic Mudflows threaten crude oil tanks (updated 2009 April 03)

AVO webcam - 2009 March 30

It’s ironic that only a few days after the 20th anniversary of The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound a new environmental disaster may be looming on the Alaskan horizon. This time it’s a potential crude oil spill into Cook Inlet. The press has only recently started paying attention to the peril of a tank farm containing more than six-million gallons of crude oil. The Chevron tank farm is located just northeast of the currently active Mt. Redoubt volcano where the Drift River empties into Cook Inlet. I suspect the current attention from The Fourth Estate is due in part to the mention of the potential for disaster by Alaska blogger AKMuckraker at Huffingtonpost and at Mudflats (here and here)

Please call your Congressional Representatives and urge them to push for Federal Action if Alaska’s government does not take steps to see that the tanks at Chevron’s Drift River Terminal are drained immediately. You might also consider contacting The Obama Administration, Secretary of the Interior
Ken Salazar might be a good person to start with.

It is this kids opinion that the failure of The State of Alaska and the Federal Government to demand that the tanks be drained the moment that Mt. Redoubt erupted (Sunday night, 2009 March 22) demonstrates callous indifference, stupidity and perhaps even malfeasance on the part of those who claim to be protecting the public and our nation.

Update 01: I think it’s worth noting what Tom Kizzia reported in ADN a couple of months ago about Chevron’s refusal to disclose the quantity of oil stored at its Drift River facility. ADN published the article in January and updated it in February. Chevron invoked “Homeland Security” as justification for not disclosing how much oil was being stored at its Drift River facility. This too is ironic and is all too common in our brave new world – “doublespeak” has become a matter of course for the powerful and the elite:

Citing new homeland security rules, a spokeswoman for Chevron refused to say how much oil is normally stored at Drift River these days, how much is currently on hand and whether there are plans to summon extra tankers and drain the tanks.

“That’s not public information,” said Chevron’s Roxanne Sinz. “We can’t release any numbers.”

State and federal oil spill officials will go a bit further. They say the storage at Drift River is being reduced this week. But they won’t say by how much.

Update 02: For readers unfamiliar with Alaska, Mt. Redoubt is located in The Lake Clark National Park. Chevron’s Drift River tank farm lies just outside The Parks boundary. Lake Clark National Park is consider by many to encompass some of the most beautiful country in Alaska. Map (Lake Clark Park and Reserve); Map (detail Mt. Redoubt and Drift River)

Update 03: State/Federal Joint Command: Drift River Terminal Flooding. The current status reports for official appraisals and actions are updated daily at 4 pm.

Update 04:
Cook Inletkeeper – Watershed Watch has information on their webpage about what is going on with the Drift River tanks as well as a copy of a letter, sent yesterday, March 26, to “Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security, requesting oil drawn-down at Drift River Terminal” and signed by many of the organizations that work towards maintaining our environment here in Alaska. [addendum: on March 27 Inletkeeper added this (in PDF format), "Petition to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Requesting an Emergency Declaration for the Drift River Oil Terminal at the Base of Mount Redoubt"]

Update 05 (2009 March 30): This afternoon at 1 pm the “Unified Command established to address Drift River Terminal situation” held a press conference at AVO located on the APU Campus in Anchorage. I was unable to attend and would be interested in hearing from someone who attended.

* Reuter’s reporting on the news conference.
* Seattle Times coverage.
* APRN: “Officials Consider Removing Oil at Drift River Terminal”
* KTUU: “Unified command formed to deal with Drift River Terminal” (CK says, “good job Lori.”)

On Friday AK State Representatives Les Gara, Beth Kerttula, Berta Gardner, Harry Crawford, Pete Petersen, Chris Tuck, Bob Buch, Max Gruenberg and Woodie Salmon wrote a letter to the Commissioners of The Department of Fish and Game and The Department of Environmental Conservation expressing their concern and requesting information on the situation, the feasibility of draining the Drift River tanks and the coming need to store more oil (from platform production). PDF copy of 2009 March 27 letter from AK Reps – click here; Text copy of response from DEC Legislative Liaison Carlson-Van Dort (formatting may not match original) – click here.

Other resources you might find of use (PDF format):
* Cook Inlet Pipeline Co, Drift River Terminal Fact sheet (EPA)
* Drift River Final Permit (EPA)

Update 06 (2009 March 31):

* APRN: “Plan to Remove Oil from Tanks Near Mount Redoubt” [HMMMM, there is a problem with this report from APRN - in their report, and on their webpage, APRN says "about 6 million gallons of oil is currently sitting in 2 tanks at the facility, 3 other tanks on site are empty and cleaned." OK - but there are 7 tanks at the Drift River OIL Terminal, what's the status of the 2 tanks that APRN fails to mention? DEC reported to AK State Reps on Friday that, "There are two crude oil storage tanks at the Drift River facility each of which contain approximately 75,000 barrels of crude oil. Of the remaining five, 4 are scrubbed out and completely empty, one tank is empty but has not been scrubbed out.." Seems to me that this would shoot big holes in the argument that Chevron should be allowed to leave some oil in for ballast supposedly, some Coast Guard employees have claimed, to avoid the same thing that happened in New Orleans. Personally, I think the "ballast" argument may be a ruse to allow Chevron to maintain oil production at current levels in The Inlet. Despite the risks, Chevron etal. want to use Drift River Oil Terminal even as Mt. Redoubt threatens the facility. Several reports have noted that by leaving oil in the tanks Chevron could "start-up" the oil terminal much quicker. Quicker might be better for Chevron, but is the risk to Cook Inlet worth it? APRN's report leaves me wondering if there is one dirty and empty tank (as claimed by DEC), or two "dirty" but empty tanks at the oil terminal now? The public needs to know what's up - please finish the story.]

Update 07 (2009 April 01-02)

comment: Honey Pie, now you’ve hit the bigtime!

Press conference this afternoon at 1300h
Press conference announcements are sort of like watching the AVO website. If it’s happening you can count on the press to be there. Too bad because they could report the news w/o the help of “The Joint Task Force.” Now, look for the ash.

* CNN has a big thing on – “Oil to be moved from huge tanks near volcano”

*AP – via Google “The plan is to leave nearly 1.7 million gallons in each tank” [ugh - that's 3.4 million gallons]

*ADN reports: “A Coast Guard official said this afternoon that a tanker is scheduled Saturday to begin loading 6.3 million gallons of crude oil from the Drift River oil terminal and two other “critically full” storage facilities on the west side of Cook Inlet.” [ADN is fibbing / lying, unless all the other news outlets have got it wrong. I assume ADN got its lead from the news conference held April 02. It would seem that according to the "Unified Command" or whatever they call themselves (I've lost track) at least 1.6 million gallons of sweet crude will remain in the tanks at Drift River. So ADN is playing with words, I wish I was better with words - but lets see, if I have 6.3 million gallons of oil and I plan on removing 4 million gallons, I could say that I've started pumping 6.3 million (or could I?) - shame on ADN!!!! What do they take us for, small town dweebs? Ahem.]

* (from April 01, before the most recent press confernce) Homer Tribune, “‘Move the crude now,’ group urges”

January 30th, 2009

Dark thoughts

I just realized what has been bothering me about all the blather I’ve been listening to on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, and even Air America over the past few months. All: NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC and Air America (just to name a few) have been focused on maintaining the “corporate mainstream,” as it collapses in upon itself. The news and opinion media has been using fear as its tool of choice. According to the mainstream media we should be quaking in our boots because if the investment houses and banks fail (haven’t they already?) we might loose our homes, loose our jobs, and we might not have enough food to eat. Hmmmmm. I have heard scant mention of the many alternative economic models that might prove helpful. The experts these media outlets have enlisted (NPR is by far one of the worst), are mum on anything that might change the basic configuration of our economy, even though many very successful alternative economies exist.

Why haven’t we heard about cooperatives, collectives or even community gardens from our media? Even Obama is mute on “alternative” economic models; hell why else would he offer up a $700-billion stimulus package to back up the trillion dollars plus of OUR money that Bush spent before Obama took over? Most of that money, from Bush and Obama, is being given to the folks that caused “the crisis” in the first place. Seems to me, that if times might get really bad the government should be spending my money helping people. I would suggest that the Feds start helping people by offering classes and workshops on how to successfully grow food so that we can survive hard times? Alas, there is little profit in it so why should our government bother? Ironic, no?

The folks that we are bailing out are responsible for destroying the manufacturing core of The United States and the jobs that sector used to provide; why are we rewarding them now with huge publicly funded subsidies? I have come to realize that we are being handed a bill of goods and a shitload of propaganda. It’s time to start talking about real alternatives to the systems that have failed us.

P.S. At least based on the reading I’ve done, experts on propaganda seem to agree that the purpose of propaganda has nothing to do with what you think – what you think is of little importance to the propagandist; the central focus of all propaganda is how you behave.

November 3rd, 2008

Eve of Destruction

Noam Chomsky recently noted that the United States has one political party with two factions: the Republicans and the Democrats. The elections to be held this Tuesday in the United States will, no doubt, impact people around the world, some for better and many for worse. I’m not sure why, but I was poking around in my “archives” tonight and revisited a lecture that has had a big impact on how I view my country. Speaking at Riverside Church in New York City author Arundhati Roy delivered her thoughts in a message titled, “Instant Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One Get One Free),” on April 13, 2003.

Roy noted, among many other things, that:

Way back in 1988, on the 3rd of July, the U.S.S. Vincennes, a missile cruiser stationed in the Persian Gulf, accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner and killed 290 civilian passengers. George Bush the First, who was at the time on his presidential campaign, was asked to comment on the incident. He said quite subtly, “I will never apologize for the United States. I don’t care what the facts are.”

I don’t care what the facts are. What a perfect maxim for the New American Empire. Perhaps a slight variation on the theme would be more apposite: The facts can be whatever we want them to be.

When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC News poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported Al Qaida. None of this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn’t any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion, and outright lies circulated by the U.S. corporate media, otherwise known as the “Free Press,” that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests.

Public support in the U.S. for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit, coordinated by the U.S. government and faithfully amplified by the corporate media.

Good luck to us all.

A written transcript of Roy’s presentation is available here.

August 17th, 2007

Fed up

Dear xxxxx,

I’m hanging out in Berkeley (land of Fruits and Nuts) with xxxxx at the moment.

Don’t know if you have any interest in AK politics, but if you do this might
be of interest (though if stripped of the details I’m sure it is applicable
in most any part of our country).

FBI investigates science contracts awarded Veco
ARCTIC: $170 million in research contracts coincided with support for polar funding by Sen. Stevens.

FWIW the press keeps reporting how low the approval #’s are for our
Congress – what they fail to mention is that the numbers are low because the
Democrats and Republicans fail to hold our leaders accountable. The press
spins it that the public is upset because the Dems are going after the
Repubs – that of course is BS – the public is PO’d ’cause nobody is swinging
from a tree, not even the low hanging fruit. I’m disgusted with what’s
going on – with the president, the legislature, the current crop of presidential
“hopefuls” and, of course, the Fourth Estate.

July 29th, 2007

ADN: are you getting what you pay for?

Anchorage Daily News
Sunday, 2007 July 29

Paper as delivered: 950 grams

Advertising inserts and supplements: 620 grams (65% of total weight)
All other sections: 330 grams (35% of total weight)

Weight by section:

- Front “A section:” 47 grams (5%)
- Alaska “B section:” 30 grams (3%)
- Outdoors & Travel, “K Section:” 21 grams (2%)
- Sports “C section:” 48 grams (5%)
- Ideas & Opinion “J section:” 21 grams (2%)
- Money “H section:” 24 grams (3%)
- Life & Arts “G section:” 30 grams (3%)
- TV News: 50 grams (5%)
- Parade sup: 24 grams (3%)
- Sunday comics: 22 grams (3%)

P.S. 454 grams = 1 pound

January 8th, 2007

I smell something: Hollywood Vista, Marc Marlow and the Anchorage City Council

Well, well… the voters have spoken. It seems that most of us want a cleaner more honest form of government; at least as far as our elected representatives are concerned. But the Anchorage Daily News, despite frequent editorials that decry unethical behavior by elected officials, has once again waited until the last minute to report on an important local story. To my way of thinking this puts ADN in the same barrel with the scumbags who’ve taken bribes and lied to us in the past because it precludes our involvement in our government. I think that ADN’s delay is intentional and planned. Like so many other stories that ADN has reported on short notice or after the fact, the story, if acted on by the citizens of Anchorage, might have a real impact and disrupt what has already been planned. Well at least ADN reported this story before the fact (albeit only 2-”working days” before) rather than reporting the story 2 days after the deal is sealed as ADN has often done in the past.

This time it’s a possible land deal between “big deal” land developer Marc Marlow – and The Municipality of Anchorage (link to PDF of proposed Ordinance No. AO 2006-178). I get my news from the same places that everyone else does, so I was more than a bit surprised when the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) reported on Saturday, January 6, 2007 on page 1 (above the fold) a “POSH look planned for bluff housing;” the very first I’ve heard of it (and I even did a news search with Lexis). It seems that the City plans to sell developer Mark Marlow the 12.5 acres on Government Hill formerly known as “Hollywood Vista” apartments for, according to ADN $3.5 million. Sweet! In return, again according to ADN, Marlow will dedicate 10% of the 90 units he is reportedly planning on building (that’s 9 units folks) as affordable. N.B: for Marlow and The City ADN says $200,000 (almost 1/4 of a million dollars) is affordable.

This is just so much HORSE SHIT; again. Anchorage is in desperate need of affordable housing – but now the city is selling off a big chunk of prime city property to an already rich developer to build more luxury units?????? Did I miss something? Are all those unsold condos in the classified section a figment of my imagination? Is the crime rate in Anchorage also part of my imaginary landscape? Perhaps I’ve been misled to think there is a relationship between the real cost-of-living and crime;a curse on all those eggheads who’ve lead me astray. So I guess it’s business-as-usual here in Anchorage; screw me, screw you, screw any body who’s not a “mover and a shaker” in Anchorage (can you spell ELITES – perhaps read Robert Dahl if you need a definition of elite). Yet again we are going to get fleeced, and The City will tell us it’s for our own good. I can’t wait.

Please consider testifying this Tuesday at the Assembly Meeting and request that The City wait until the residents of Anchorage have had time to study the details of this land deal. ADN reported last Saturday that public testimony will be taken at this Tuesday’s Assembly meeting. At a minimum we should request (demand ??) that the City and Mark Marlow make the “relevant particulars” of their plans public – VERY PUBLIC so that we can study the details before we advise our elected representatives and thereby The Anchorage Assembly how we think our land should be used.

December 30th, 2006

Saddam is killed: AP spews propaganda

Hmmm, when my S.O. brought up a Yahoo page on her computer last night she said, “read the first paragraph of this story.” I read the text on the computer screen out loud:

Clutching a Quran and refusing a hood, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows before sunrise Saturday, executed by vengeful countrymen after a quarter-century of remorseless brutality that killed countless thousands and led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran.

Huh??? “Saddam..led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran.” ???? I’m flumoxed; this is simply not true. Did I miss something?

Here is an assortment of leads from the AP writer(s) that penned the B.S. quoted above, CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA and/or CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, I’ve included time stamps (via Lexus/Nexus Academic) so we can see the evolution of AP’s leads.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 4:49 AM GMT

Saddam Hussein, the dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles, was taken to the gallows and executed Saturday, Iraqi state-run television reported.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 5:04 AM GMT

Saddam Hussein, the dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles, was taken to the gallows and executed Saturday.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 5:19 AM GMT

Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles, was taken to the gallows and executed Saturday. A witness said he was composed in his last moments.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 5:21 AM GMT

Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles, was taken to the gallows clutching a Quran and hanged Saturday.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 5:34 AM GMT

Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles, was taken to the gallows clutching a Quran and hanged Saturday.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 6:19 AM GMT

Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century and was driven from power by a U.S.-led war that left his country in shambles, was taken to the gallows and executed Saturday. On the gallows, Saddam refused to wear a hood and shouted: “God is great.”

December 30, 2006 Saturday 6:40 AM GMT

In the end, Saddam Hussein died at the hands of those he brutalized during a bloody regime that led Iraq into two disastrous wars with the United States and left the country and its people in utter chaos.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 7:16 AM GMT

Clutching a Quran and refusing a hood, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows before sunrise Saturday, executed by vengeful countrymen after a quarter-century of remorseless brutality that killed countless thousands and led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 7:43 AM GMT

Clutching a Quran and refusing a hood, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows before sunrise Saturday, executed by vengeful countrymen after a quarter-century of remorseless brutality that killed countless thousands and led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran.

December 30, 2006 Saturday 9:59 AM GMT

Clutching a Quran and refusing a hood, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows before sunrise Saturday, executed by vengeful countrymen after a quarter-century of remorseless brutality that killed countless thousands and led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran.

November 14th, 2006

What should the Democrats do now?

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.“ – Justice Louis Brandeis

Need anything more be said? If the Dems really want to serve the people of this country they will do everything in their power to offer all of us a clear view of what has really happened during the past 6 years of Republican rule. Public hearings need to be held on varied topics ranging from military procurement and corporate malfeasance to why the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina failed in so many ways. Our elected representatives, Democrat or Republican, who really want to do what’s best for this country should do what ever it takes to revise the rules that have been changed and abused in order to classify government documents and thus keep the public from seeing how our government has been conducting our affairs.

P.S. Whatever happened to the 8 billion in cash that vanished in Iraq (the guy at the liquor store wondered about this as I went through the check out last night)?

September 16th, 2006

Air Force Secretary advocates “testing” new weapons on U.S. Citizens

Recently appointed U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne suggested this week that “active area denial” weapons be turned towards and used against U.S. Citizens. The military has, in the past, argued that using “active area denial” weapons for crowd control instead of bullets would reduce unwelcome fallout from too many dead and wounded and thus reduce or eliminate potentially damaging “PR” and, also perhaps, ill will from “local” populations. I found this story, reported this week by AP, to be disturbing and indicative of the all too frequent disregard some of our government officials have shown for the citizens they are supposed to be serving. AP reported:

WASHINGTON – Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

“If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation,” said Wynne. “(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press.”

Nationwide, newspaper editors seem to have ignored this story. A LexisNexis search revealed that only one paper, out of the papers that LexisNexis Academic tracks, listed the story.

I can’t help but wonder if Secretary Wynne knows of, or perhaps has heard, some inner sanctum gossip about some impending social upheaval or turmoil that would give the Air Force a chance to try out our new weapons on us? Unless, of course, the Army or the Navy hit us first since both have also developed “active area denial” weapons of their own.

Have a nice day :)

August 9th, 2006

ADN, Federal & Alaska State regulators asleep on the job; local talk show host trumps them all on BP shutdown.

My jaw dropped yesterday when local talk show host Aaron Selbig asked listeners who might have worked for British Petroleum or related concerns to call into his radio show and voice their opinions on BP’s shut down of its’ Alaska based oil production in order to fix infrastructure failures at Prudhoe Bay. To my amazement, numerous callers who claimed to have worked for BP or companies supporting BP’s operations called in to Aaron’s show with claims that BP had punished employees who reported leaks. As always I ask, where is the Fourth Estate? If former BP employees are willing to call into a radio show, state their names and talk about malfeasance on the part of the oil interests in my state, it’s hard for me to believe that local and national news reporters couldn’t get a story out about the shenanigans that the oil companies have been up to for the past 20 years. Why didn’t the State of Alaska or the Feds haul BP onto the carpet years ago? Inquiring minds need to know. Hmmmm?