Guardian Exposes Big Oil’s Deferred Maintenance Contributed to Oil Spill

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

On June 3, 2015 The Guardian staff published, “California Oil Spill Pipeline Had Been Left to Rust Paper-Thin.” The article focused on how the malpractices of the oil company lead to the oil spill in Santa Barbara and the impact that this had on the environment. This is significant because it illustrates how companies failing to repair their equipment, has a major impact on the environment. Since June of 2015, the corporate media has failed to cover “California Oil Spill Pipeline Had Been Left to Rust Paper-Thin.”

The Guardian’s article focused on the topic of an oil company’s malpractice and its impact on the environment. The reports showed that the pipe had corroded 1.5 mm (1/16th of an inch) in the area of the rupture. This means that 80% of the pipe had corroded away greatly diminishing the integrity of the pipe. Richard Kuprewicz, president of Accufacts Inc., who investigates pipeline incidents, said that pipes are durable enough to handle some percentage of corrosion but once levels of 80% are reached, there is no room for error. Reports also showed that near the area, three repairs were made in 2012 for corrosion.

The topic of company malpractice is significant because it may lead to it lead to oil spills, which can greatly effects the environment. On May 19, 2015 the Plains All American Pipeline ruptured along the Santa Barbra coast, near Refugio State Beach, spilling an estimated 105,000 gallons of crude oil. Of the 105,000 gallons that were spilled an estimated 21,000 reached the Pacific Ocean. With this amount of oil the oil slick was 14.5 km (9 miles) in size. This oil spill was detrimental to the environment of the coastline and cost an estimated 92 million dollars in clean up.

The independent news coverage of “California Oil Spill Pipeline Had Been Left to Rust Paper-Thin” has been scant. The minimal coverage by independent and environmental outlets include Huffington Post and The Society of Environmental Journalists.While the spill received coverage by most major corporate news outlets including, FOX News, CNN, ABC, and the New York Times, the original story of the pipeline bursting and the cause of this event, has been ignored. Though the story of the oil spill is covered by most corporate news outlets, the story of why and how the spill actually occurred was completely ignored. This is important, as it explains how the spill was almost entirely avoidable, if the pipes were kept up to date.. If oil companies take better care of their equipment, this could greatly reduce the amount of oil spills that occur.

Source: “California oil spill pipeline had been left to rust paper-thin,” Guardian (via Associated Press), June 3, 2015,

Student Researchers: William Soule (California State University, Maritime Academy) and Justin Lascano (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon (California State University, Maritime Academy)