Posted by: shannynmoore | March 30, 2009

Palin’s Pause; A Disaster In The Making. UPDATED

Mount Redoubt is awake. Our governor is not. I’m beyond annoyed.

Currently, 6 million gallons of Alaska crude oil wait at the base of a volcano that has puked, spewed and gone half mad 19 times in the last 8 days.  The years of colonization have made flaccid the response of many Alaskans.  For good reason; collective PTSD from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and subsequent 20 year wait only to have the Supreme Court deliver Exxon a reach-around while Alaskans grabbed their ankles fuels collective disillusionment.  It’s ironic we need petroleum products to deal with an oil company.  Sadly, our governor couldn’t remember “Exxon v. Baker” when asked by Katie Couric about Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with. The 20th solemn observance of the catastrophic spill last week would have been an appropriate time for a statement, but she was loudly silent.  It is a very real possibility that history could be repeated.

The Drift River marine terminal started operating in 1967.  Brilliant.  I know, let’s put an oil storage facility at the base of a volcano.  You would think it was the secret lair of the Evil Dr. Cheney; or some hilariously funny and misguided plotline from an Austin Powers film.  Pipelined in from another facility, it merely holds the crude until it’s ready to ride to the refinery across the inlet.drift-river-tank-farm-on-cook-inlet-at-the-base-of-mt-redoubt1

One of the reasons given for leaving 6 million gallons of crude in the storage tanks is stability; the tanks are much more stable when they have something in them.  Chevron referenced Katrina and the need to keep the tanks heavy enough so they don’t float away in a flood.  The environmental coupon clippers decided to risk Cook Inlet in order to save empty storage tanks.  DID I MENTION THEY ARE AT THE BASE OF AN ACTIVE AND EXPLODING VOLCANO?   Drift River is also permitted by the EPA to treat ballast water from tankers.  Were the storage tanks emptied of oil, they could be filled to safe and stable weight levels with sea water-called BALLAST when it’s in a boat.

The volcanic eruption of 1989 was severe, but Cook Inlet was not at risk – the storage tanks had been emptied.  20 years later, industry initially wouldn’t release the amount of oil left in the tanks citing a threat to “homeland security”.  So, by that logic, the terrorists would attack if they knew the crude supply in a storage facility was running a little low? REALLY?  The Palin Administration, the Coast Guard, and the EPA rolled with that and regurgitated the corporate line of drivel without question.  Why don’t the terrorists attack the Port of Valdez?  They release their crude number every day.  Finally, due to relentless pressure from Cook Inlet Keepers, Chevron finally owned the fact they decided to store 6 million gallons of crude oil at the base of Mt

After months of seismic activity, rumblings, belches…well, all the volcanic foreplay you would expect before an eruption…why are 6 million gallons of oil still there?  That’s over half the size of the reported Exxon Valdez oil spill.  The Coast Guard, Chevron and the State have collectively admitted that there is a lack of response equipment if the Drift River oil tanks rupture or collapse.

According to state statutes for lease conditions;

“Mitigative, Preventive, and Abatement Activities Required (a) The LESSEE will, at its own expense ….The LESSEE shall prevent or, if the procedure, activity, event or condition already exists or has occurred, shall abate, as completely as practicable, using the BEST PRACTICABLE TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE…immediate, serious, or irreparable harm or damage to the environment (including but not limited to soil, sediments, water and air quality, areas of vegetation, fish or other wildlife populations or their habitats, or any other natural resource).”

HOLY CRAP! It’s the Pottery Barn Rule! You break it…you buy it.  That’s hilarious! Exxon just disproved it, and the Supreme Court set precedent for multinational corporations to have an “accident” and get a pass-just the cost of doing business.  It’s time to demand the State of Alaska enforce the laws we already have. It doesn’t take an economist to realize a “Free-Market” capitalist society is very expensive. Chevron, like Exxon, privatize their profits and socialize their risk and loss with the livelihoods and lifestyles of the people and environment of Cook Inlet.

The Cook Inletkeepers have a call to action.  This is Vitamin Democracy.

Write to the Captain of the Port – Mark Hamiltion – – and ask him to:

1) draw down the oil in the tanks at the Drift River Terminal until the volcano subsides and

2) position spill response equipment so we’re ready in case things turn south.

Join Cook Inletkeepers. You can tell them I sent you. Join Renewable Resources Coalition to keep an eye on the Bristol Bay watershed and Pebble Mine updates.

I could bang my head and tell you the controlling forces in Alaska have better things to focus on…like denying vaginal rights, bringing back the death penalty (Jesus would have loved that…oh wait, maybe not), and the “I-did-a-dog” bestiality bill.  Palin’s pandering appointments of W.A.R. (extremist Wayne Anthony Ross) for Attorney General and the newly converted and recent Republican Tim Grussendorf to replace Democrat Kim Elton’s vacated Alaska State Senate seat are just short of a “F*@# YOU, Alaska!” press release.

But I won’t rant on that just now, WE DON’T HAVE TIME!


Senator Bill Wielechowski

March 31, 2009

The Honorable Sarah Palin


State of Alaska

Capitol Building

Juneau, Alaska 99801

Re: Security of Drift River Terminal in Relation to Mount Redoubt Eruption

Dear Governor Palin,

I am deeply concerned about the integrity of the Drift River Terminal storage tanks. Statements from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Coast Guard have indicated that there is not currently an adequate spill plan in place to handle a catastrophic oil spill resulting from volcanic eruptions at Mount Redoubt. Currently we only have barge capacity to remove 3 million gallons of oil, yet there are 6 million gallons of oil being stored at the Drift River facility. Our Cook Inlet fisheries are at risk due to continued volcanic eruptions from Mount Redoubt and the associated lahars and extensive flooding that have resulted and will likely continue.

During the 1989-1990 eruption of Mount Redoubt, state and federal regulators worked with industry to empty the Drift River Terminal storage tanks and effectively shut down the terminal. With months of time leading up to the March eruptions, it is unclear why alternative oil storage was not sought so that two of seven tanks could have already been emptied in similar fashion. I understand that at this point, it may be risky to remove the remaining oil from the two tanks currently in use. I also understand that Cook Inlet platforms are nearly full and it is a short matter of time before additional oil will be pumped from the pipeline into the Drift River Terminal, thereby increasing the spill risk.

It is imperative that steps be taken to safeguard our Cook Inlet fisheries from a catastrophic oil spill. During this time of heightened volcanic activity, I ask that you exercise your powers to:

1) immediately deploy adequate emergency oil spill response equipment to the site to prevent, contain, and/or mitigate a disastrous oil spill of 6 million gallons from the Drift River Terminal;

2) ensure that all prudent efforts be made to remove the oil at the Drift River Terminal in a safe and expeditious manner until volcanic threat levels subside;

3) prevent additional oil from being transported to the Drift River Terminal through the pipeline by pumping oil from well to well if necessary; and

4) ensure openness and transparency by ensuring that current and updated information about the Drift River Terminal is posted on the Alaska Volcano Observatory website:

Lastly, it is apparent that the location of the Drift River Terminal is in an unpredictably hazardous area and I ask that serious thought and planning be made for permanent relocation to an area that is not at the base of an active volcano. Alaska can not continue to risk our Cook Inlet fisheries and oil supply due to poor planning choices made over 40 years ago.

I look forward to your response and would be happy to work with you to find solutions to these issues.


Senator Bill Wielechowski



  1. BS Palin has had 300+ press releases while in office, To my knowledge she has not put out any in regards to the volcano or Drift River Facility OR their relationship.

    Is there NO ONE guiding this ship State.

  2. I am totally with you on this entire subject.

    Except that “flaccid” part.

    That just hurts.

  3. Shannyn used flaccid and vaginal in the same post. I’m trying not to think too much about the complete numbskullery of Chevron and Palin concerning those tanks, so I’m being a 7th grader and focusing on the naughty words.

  4. sorry. I was just over at Mudflats neenering Palin’s plummeting approval index and I haven’t moved back up to my real age yet.

  5. I don’t get it. I am an Alaskan who works in the oil industry. Having worked in the Gulf Coast several times in the past, it was SOP (standard operating procedure) to empty tanks and fill them with water to prevent float aways during hurricanes. I don’t get what the difference is. I would definitely de-inventory those tanks and fill them w/ water.

  6. Good on You!
    And thank you!
    So much work for so many people to protect this planet and its people.

  7. OK. I just googled U.S. Dept of the Interior main page. Scrolled down a bit. They do have a picture of Mt. Redoubt and some information (that I have yet to read / listen to). I don’t see anything about the oil tanks yet.

  8. Great Post Shannyn, thank-you!

    I have been boycotting Exxon for over 20 years.

    It is time to start a BOYCOTT of Chevron!

    Keep beating the drums; the message is being heard.

  9. Thanks for staying on top of this Shannyn.

    If those tanks rupture and dump 6 million gallons of crude into my favorite salmon grounds it will be that state’s fault for not holding Chevron accountable. Palin is the head of state so it will be her fault. God forbid something happens, but if it does it will be know as The Palin Valdez.

    Unbelievable. But she’s busy appointing Republicans to Democratic Senate seats…

  10. No matter what the outcome, there should be an investigation of how 6.2 million gallons of sweet crude was allowed to remain at the base of an active volcano. I’m sure there are names associated with the decision. Oh, and I’d be curious, when this potential disaster is all over just how much all the over flights, Coast Guard work, reports and so on cost; I’ll bet when all is said and done the decision to allow Chevron to keep that much oil at Drift River Terminal. Maybe any associated costs should be billed to Chevron and its share holders?

  11. ooops

    ….I’ll bet when all is said and done the decision to allow Chevron to keep that much oil at Drift River Terminal will cost us a bundle….


  12. Excellent post, Shannyn!!! Thank you!

  13. First of all: this is INSANE! How many effing near tragedy/disasters is this woman going to sit on the sideline for? Makes you wonder if she thinks Rev. Graham and his sporty jet will be able to bail out her sorry ass on THIS one…or if she’s just down in the bunker singing revival songs waiting for the Second Coming of Christ. SHIT BALLS, ALASKA! RECALL THIS BITCH BEFORE HE GETS HERE!

    “I-did-a-dog” bill…man, Shannyn! You HAVE to put a warning on your blog banner: Do NOT CONSUME BEVERAGES WHILE READING POSTS AS IT MAY DAMAGE YOUR KEYBOARD!

    This is the second time you’ve said/written something that has my wine coming out of my nose.

    He might not be so keen on the death penalty thing, but I have it on good authority that God has nothing but love for the wicked smart AND wicked funny.

    Hugs for the lower 48

  14. I MEANT “HUGS FROM THE LOWER 48″…time to back away from the wine.

  15. OT, but Shannyn, I just heard you on As It Happens on KTOO talking about the outing of AKm and The Mudflats! You rocked, and I’m loving that you’ve made it international.

  16. Sorry for the dumb question, but it appears that the “Captain of the Port – Mark Hamilton –” is a US Coast Guard officer. What authority does he have to tell Chevron what to do?

    I believe governments have “inherent police powers” to do what is necessary to prevent an imminent disaster, as well as whatever statutory powers there may be. It may be that among the sweeping presidential powers that his predecessor has accumulated, President Obama, Capt. Hamilton’s CIC, may have the authority to order Chevron to act now rather than take its chances on having to pay later.

    Obviously, the President has a lot of other things going on, and even if he had the power, it’s touchy for the feds to move when the state hasn’t asked. Andrew Halcro recently said on his blog that Alaska is on autopilot, but at least from where I sit in the lower 48, that’s too generous. An autopilot is mindless, but it knows where it’s going.

    Has anyone figured out why, if Chevron drained the tanks in 1989, it didn’t do that now? If they have done a study that they are relying on showing that it is highly unlikely that an eruption would lead to a massive spill, it would be nice if they shared it. Or have they?

    I certainly hope the Alaska Disasta will not require AKM to rename her blog “Oilflats.”

  17. Please excuse my ignorance but… if the country is so short of crude oil, how can there be an “extra” 6+ million gallons to just sit around at the foot of a volcano in the first place?

    Great post – loved the flaccid comment – rofl


  18. hi everyone .. the GOOD NEWS for Alaska on one front is on McClatchy today. Lisa M is going to introduce a “volcano monitoring bill”.

    Here’s the link:

  19. ozmud: Our country is NOT short of crude oil. Due to the price drop, all the oil tankers are swimming around the ocean trying to create a shortage and force the price back up.

  20. Basheert @ 8:14 a.m:

    “All the oil tankers are swimming around the ocean trying to create a shortage and force the price back up.”

    That might explain why Chevron couldn’t find an empty one on short notice. Of course, a tanker can be emptied if the owner of the cargo is willing to sell cheaply enough.

    Surely Chevron realizes that if the contents of those tanks goes into Cook Inlet there will be no drunk skipper to blame and a much stronger case for punitive damages than the Exxon Valdez spill. The consequences aren’t limited to tort-law damages, either. Congress could establish criteria for “environmentally reckless” companies and bar them from federal contracts, or worse.

    Americans’ tolerance for business misjudgments that cause widespread harm has evaporated with their retirement savings. Businesses that don’t realize that this country’s pro-business attitude has just slammed into reverse and don’t rethink their cost-benefit calculations accordingly are going to suffer serious whiplash.

    Just ranting.

  21. This story has vexed me since I heard about it… the tanks at the base of a freaking volcano. I mean, it makes NO SENSE. There must be some sort of money trail along with this type of decision. Someone somewhere has some gold lined pockets, methinks.

    I hope Our President ( I love saying that now…haven’t in 8 years) knows about this. He can help. Can he?

  22. Speaking as someone who was awakened by a loud bang on May 18, 1980, I understand totally your concerrn.

    At least the state of Washington didn’t STORE OIL at the Base of St. Helens when she blew.

    You have our deepest sympathy for the derangement that is the Lady Nailpins.

  23. Did you confront Mike Doogan?
    How did that go ?
    I’m wondering if Mike Doogan Blew up like Mount Redoubt, scurry away like a scared rat?
    Just wondering.

  24. shannyn, you are awesome. If there were more people like you and AKM in Alaska, i would move back to my place of origin. Your posts give me both hope and despair at the same time- but with that, always the motivation to do something, to be active politically.

  25. Ted walks.

    Thanks a pantload Eric.

  26. GreyGrey:
    ERIC? Because he found that the thugs in the BUSH/CHENEY DOJ were guilty of prosecutorial misconduct?

    Why is this Eric’s fault? The fact is, the prosecutor screwed up the case. Stevens wasn’t innocent – his conviction/indictment was thrown out because the BUSH prosecuter botched the case.

    I am NO fan of Ted Stevens but I do believe prosecutor misconduct is rampant and when it is identified, you must toss the case.

    Why would you blame Eric Holder? He did the right legal thing to do.

    Blame Frodo.

  27. Shannyn – this was spot on – and thankfully I wasn’t drinking when I read “I did a dog” or there’d be spots on my ‘puter! Holy Crap you are funny!

  28. Shannyn V Doogan!

    I read over on Progressive Alaska that Shannyn did indeed confront Mike Doogan!!! From Phil Munger:

    “Meanwhile, one of my Juneau informants tells me that when Shannyn Moore tried to corner Mike Doogan today in Juneau, he locked himself in a rest room. I can’t wait to find out the real story from Shannyn.

    Update – 10:00 p.m:

    Shannyn says the hallroom chase with Doogan is far more hilarious. She has it on tape. Can’t wait!”

    WOW. Hopefully, she’ll post a first hand account!

  29. We want Tape
    We want Tape
    We want Tape!!!

  30. Why wasn’t that oil parceled out to Alaskans who are short on heating supplies?

  31. Shannyn didn’t slide him a newspaper under the door, did she?

  32. Why on earth would Governor TWIT help Alaskans? They aren’t on her radar.

  33. It looks like they’re finally actually going to move that oil:

  34. It is about 8 a.m. Saturday April 4. Redoubt erupted a couple hours ago and it appears the ash went right over Homer. The AVO hut webcam shows a dramatic image and apparently a hell of a lahar went down the mountain into drift river. I sure hope a catastrophe is not unfolding. I also hope the lahar was not as bad as it appeared on the camera.

    There are no excuses if the Drift River terminal takes damage.

  35. #

    It looks like they’re finally actually going to move that oil:

    They are only planning to remove 3 million gallons. Drift River Oil Terminal according to current reports will continue to store 3 million gallons of oil. 3 million gallons is certainly more than enough oil to cause a spill of catastrophic proportion.

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