The latest estimate from the Colonial Pipeline spill in August of 2020 in a nature preserve in North Carolina now puts the spilled amount of gasoline at 2 million gallons, up from the company’s original estimate of 63,000 gallons. The company claims that it’s managed to suck three-quarters of the spill out of the ground after what is now believed to be an 18-day spill. The pipeline delivers 100 million gallons of fuel each day, connecting Houston to New York. It’s one of the largest onshore fuel spills in American history, and larger than any other recorded gasoline leaks from a U.S. pipeline.
Uhh, ummm . . . maybe move the decimal point to the right one place, and then multiply by three? Their first guess was close enough for the public relations guys, I guess. Plus 3,000 percent as a recent correction? That was a mighty bad first guess. But then, when over a 100 gallons a second are ripping through the pipe. . . Well, kinda gets you thinking about how much bigger that leak could get, or maybe you don’t really WANT to think about how much bigger it could get. And you don’t want to think about sparks neither. Won’t think about what if a school, or a neighborhood, or a town, or a city were involved. Nope . . .
So sixty-three thousand gallons starts to seem more, well, easy to wrap your mind around–not quite a full 5,000 gallon tanker truck a day being spilled for those 18 days till it got stopped. Yep, that’s a nice believable, manageable round number, a good guess until the news cycle moves on and the remediation can get done quietly with no drama.
Who are we kidding?