CONSPIRACY: “A secret plan or agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal or subversive act.”
From 1994 to 2004, the following groups knowingly or unknowingly conspired to misrepresent the size of a pipeline leak or at the very least failed to enforce State & Federal laws:
Conoco Pipeline Corporation: owners of the 70 year old pipeline connecting Oklahoma to Illinois. By law, Oil Companies are required to file a report with the federal government whenever a spill occurs. Consequently, Conoco’s first and most outrageous lie: The Oil Giant was allowed to report that their spill began at the exact same moment that the St. Charles Spill Response Team discovered the leak. Despite the fact that the fuel had already traveled nearly a mile down stream in an almost dry stream bed!
Conoco was also allowed to claim less than 1000 gallons of Aviation fuel leaked from their pipeline. Even though, using the Oil Company’s own spill data, calculations proved, up to 63,000 gallons of Aviation fuel pumped from their pipe.
Conoco was not held accountable for a second leak discovered near the first leak in a nearby soy bean field. Test results indicated the presence of long term Gasoline contamination from the second leak. Conoco employees and Sub Contractors were allowed to complete “Cosmetic remediation attempts” for almost ten years. The result of these ‘band aid’ clean up attempts was a ten year contamination of the area downstream of the spill. Other consequences of the ineffective clean up attempts were annual fish kills in the O’Day Branch Creek and denial of use of Kim Ryba’s pastures adjoining the creek.
Office of Pipeline Safety: OPS local representative assisted in the cover up by not demanding Conoco Batch or pressure records of the spill. Then once these same records were grudgingly provided, OPS refused to review the records.
OPS took no action when Conoco filed an incomplete spill report about the amount of product spilled and the cost to fix the leak and clean the spill area.
OPS was openly hostile to the land owner (victim) while at the same time defending the Oil Company’s oversights.
OPS, the same OPS representative was a member of the group that had previously issued a Hazard Facility Order which had closed the SAME pipeline in the spring of the same year. This OPS representative had full knowledge that if the truth was reported, the result would be an issuance a new HFO. A new HFO would completely close the profitable pipeline. It was obvious that OPS chose to protect the Oil Company to keep the pipeline open.
Environmental Protection Agency:
Local EPA: The local St. Louis EPA Investigator assisted in deception by underreporting the spill size. The EPA investigator used the Oil Company’s visual estimate of product spilled instead of using Batch & pressure records to mathematically determine how much fuel was pumped into the stream. To find the actual amount of product spilled, you take into account, pipeline pressure, and size of the hole and duration of the leak.
Local EPA: Ignored laboratory tests that clearly demonstrated the creek was still contaminated after the 4th & 6th remediation attempts.
Local EPA: During the EPA criminal investigation, provided investigators with old test data instead of up updated test results. Refused to interview witnesses who demonstrated facts other than those provided by Conoco. Openly hostile to the victim (land owner).
Regional EPA: (Region 7) refused to get involved with complaints, even though information provided to them demonstrated the Oil Company under reported the spill and the area was still contaminated. Finally stated “Too much time had passed to prosecute”.
EPA: Federal Branch refused believe their investigators could be wrong. Even though fish kills continued.
EPA INSPECTOR GENERAL: Found nothing wrong!
EPA’s National Enforcement Investigation Center: Investigated the pipeline leak/spill, using data provided by the oil company. It appears that the NEIC investigates by “Letting the criminals explain what happened”! The NEIC was far more interested in learning how their phone number had been released to mere civilians!
EPA did provide observers to final clean up, but took no action against Conoco. (Crime does pay)
Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)
MDNR: at the local level, monitored the official eight remediation attempts at cleaning the contaminated area.
MDNR: local level, at first refused to obtain spill records from the Oil Company. They did not want to anger the Oil Giant. DNR did eventually force Conoco to release the spill records because of the obvious lie as to the size of the spill and the contaminated area.
MDNR at the leadership level: Levied one small fine for fish kills. Then “Shut investigation the down”. Allowed Conoco to leave site after ineffective remediation and did not enforce DNR’S own Hydrocarbon standards for contamination levels.
MDNR took no action when Conoco attempted an unlawful, unofficial and undocumented clean up attempt of stream. (Conoco hired sub contractor to come onto property and begin dredging operations without informing property owner, MDNR or EPA, No floating booms or any methods of containing/collecting the freshly exposed aviation fuel were set up.
MDNR, Allowed Conoco to follow less stringent regulations even when they were not a participant in CONG Program.
MDNR concluded that stream would be cleaned through natural methods (flooding) instead of forcing the Oil Company to remove the contaminated gravel. As was finally done in the 8th and final clean up.
Assistant Attorney General: (who reported directly to Attorney General and Governor of Missouri) Threatened to have land owner arrested because the Aviation Fuel was flowing off of her land into the adjoining wildlife area!
Allowed Conoco to lie about spilled product, & openly berated MDNR officials who disagreed with the Oil Company’s version of the spill, even when common sense and math proved otherwise.
Missouri Department of Conversation. Refused to follow up on ongoing fish kills, Refused to monitor seven of eight separate remediation attempts/fish kills by Conoco Contractors, even though the O’day Branch flowed directly into their area of responsibility: August A. Bush Wildlife Area. Missouri Department of Conversation later apologized and explained they were undermanned.
Politicians: Complaints were made to the Governor of Missouri, the Assistant Attorney General, the Justice Department, Missouri Senators and Congressmen. However either from fear or campaign funds, no one held the Oil Company accountable. In fact these politicians desperately hoped the whole story would just wash away with the jet fuel. Only at the local City Council politicians were willing to offer support.