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Thieves Cause Deadly Gasoline Pipeline Explosion in Mexico

A gasoline pipeline blew up in the Mexican state of Hidalgo last night, killing (as counted at the moment of this writing) 66 people. But don’t file this disaster in the No-Keystone-XL protest file. It didn’t happen because pipelines are inherently dangerous; it happened because thieves had illegally tapped the pipeline and dozens of local folks had gathered with their cans and buckets to steal some fuel for themselves. (One can argue that the Mexican government and state-owned oil company Pemex didn’t do enough to secure the pipeline and either detain or disperse the thieving mob, but that’s for La Prensa Libre de Dakota). Besides, this was a gasoline pipeline, not an oil pipeline. It’s a lot easier to belly up to the breach and snag a bucket of gasoline for personal use than it would have been for me to scoop up some of TransCanada’s Keystone tar sands crude in Marshall County and put that muck to good use at home.

Illegal taps and fuel theft are a growing problem in Mexico. Pemex reported 12,852 illegal pipeline taps in the first ten months of 2018. In response, the Mexican government is shifting fuel deliveries from pipeline to truck… which seems nuts, since trucks are certainly more expensive and more hijackable or just bribable than an underground pipeline.

We probably won’t see a thief-induced explosion along the Keystone or the Keystone XL oil pipelines anything like last night’s bandito-frito event along Pemex’s gasoline pipeline in Hidalgo. But Mexican pipeline theft reminds us that if we’re going to allow TransCanada to steal our land and put us at ongoing risk of environmental damage, we need to hold them to high standards of monitoring their line for leaks both internal and external. That pipeline explosion also reminds us we could avoid all of these problems by kicking our fossil-fuel addiction and moving toward more sustainable means of power production.

There have been no reports this morning of explosions at wind or solar farms….


  1. grudgenutz 2019-01-19 09:30

    Bob Newland’s facebook timeline shows some wind energy excitement in Oaxaca.

  2. Porter Lansing 2019-01-19 10:10

    “bandito-frito event”? The guys got a million of ’em, folks. :)

  3. jerry 2019-01-19 10:30

    I thought when we used to siphon gas in the old days was tricky, but to put a tap on a pipeline, that makes our little operation child’s play.

    376 refugees were caught on the American side of the border after tunneling under the WALL. Walls don’t work. Never have and never will. Some have said the Berlin Wall proves they work…Not. “The Berlin Wall was only 96 miles long, had watch towers with armed guards, a no man’s land kill zone, and bunkers, yet more than 5,000 people were able to get over it to freedom in W. Berlin. This multi billion dollar wall can be defeated with a $10 shovel or $10 ladder, probably even less if those tools are coming from Mexico. At best, it would simply slow down some illegal entries, but people and cartels would just change tactics.” IMPEACH trump and jail his accomplices. Start with the 42 turncoats that Russian tee vee is airing for their support of the lifting the sanctions on the oligarchs.

  4. jerry 2019-01-19 10:35

    Think oil pipelines cannot be tapped and thousands of gallongs stolen, think again.

    “This video shows how Iraqi’s steal oil from the pipe line in Western Iraq. They first prepare tens of oil tank trucks to wait in certain location, then they excavate a hole in the ground (pit) until they reach the oil pipe. They got a cutter that cuts the upper part of the pipe and the oil will get out from the pipe and fills the hole (pit) with the oil. Then they fill the oil tanks.”

    In our desert population in South Dakota, no one thinks twice about truck movement anyplace. Disguise tankers as cattle trucks and away you go, if you even needed to do that.

  5. Porter Lansing 2019-01-19 11:00

    Jerry says, “I thought when we used to siphon gas in the old days was tricky.” Not trying to be a clout shark but it was very tricky. Being from the big town of Watertown, my posse and I went to lots of wedding dances in the very small towns (Usually just a Catholic Church and a municipal bar/off sale. Kranzburg had lots of wedding dances. BringYourOwnBottle). Girls often needed a long ride home and would bribe you with, “You can get some gas from my Dad’s gas tank. He’ll never know.” 😊 One dad in Waverly with several “daughters who danced” was tired of the loss and spray painted GAS and DIESEL on his tanks, but opposite. Then he’d enjoy the next day seeing cars a couple miles down from his farm broken down because of stealing his diesel.. Went on for years until the local boys got wise. Gotta love SD farm humor. (Porter, being ever the gentleman, would always leave three or four bucks tucked under the farmer’s gas nozzle, for payment.)

  6. Rorschach 2019-01-19 11:03

    This happens in Nigeria a lot too. It just doesn’t get as much press.

  7. bearcreekbat 2019-01-19 11:03

    Jerry, your Berlin wall anaylsis ought to remind everyone exactly why people want to come to America. As you point out in Germany “people were able to get over it to freedom in W. Berlin.” Similarly, today people from south of our border desire to “get over it to freedom in the U.S.A.”

    When did the desire to live in a free country become a bad human goal and merit demonizing and criminalizing those who seek freedom?

  8. Robert McTaggart 2019-01-19 13:28

    One way to reduce the use of fossil fuels is to provide enough electricity to power our transportation sector (like the upcoming electric F-150 trucks from Ford). There was good news for nuclear this week in this regard as a company in California succeeded in demonstrating their methodology for deep borehole storage using oil/gas drilling techniques in an actual field test.

    “The prototype canister, which held a steel rod to simulate the weight of radioactive waste, was lowered over 2000 feet (610 metres) into an existing drillhole using a wire cable, then pushed using an underground ‘tractor’ 400 feet into a horizontal storage section. The canister was released and the cable withdrawn. Several hours later, the tractor was placed back into the hole, where it latched onto and retrieved the canister, bringing it back to the surface.”

    And get this…they didn’t need any nuclear material to do the test. Safe nuclear waste storage (and future retrievability for reprocessing) means that nuclear can substitute for natural gas in backing up a growing renewable sector.

  9. jerry 2019-01-19 14:00

    Looks like in the Windenburg fire (stole that from the comments) no loss of life. The solar electrical fire did mow down a substantial amount of grasshoppers.

  10. Robert McTaggart 2019-01-19 14:16

    The loss of life for each tends to come from installation or maintenance (top of a tower, top of a roof, electrical issues, etc.).

  11. jerry 2019-01-19 15:35

    Someone is full of the wind then, how many lives were lost in the examples you showed Doc? “Workers at nuclear power plants in Georgia provide a vital service to residents of the state, but they risk injury or death on the job. This is especially true when the plant is going through an expansion similar to the expansion at the Alan M. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant—also known as Plant Vogtle—near Waynesboro. This plant is in the process of constructing two new reactors, which means more workers, congested traffic, and opportunities for workplace accidents. If you work at Plant Vogtle and were hurt in an accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Georgia law.”

  12. Robert McTaggart 2019-01-19 17:00

    The accident and death rates at nuclear plants are lower than those for solar or wind farms. If you are going to build more solar and wind in this country in the same manner as today, then you will have more workplace incidents.

    Could those rates be brought down? Yes. But then solar and wind would not be as cheap to install, as you are really talking about either redesigning them or providing more stringent oversight.

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