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30 years of oil and gas pipeline accidents, mapped

The increasingly brutal police response to protests over the construction of The Dakota Access Pipeline has pushed the debate over the safety of oil infrastructure into the national spotlight. From the beginning of their anti-pipeline organizing, the Standing Rock Očhéthi Šakówiŋ has voiced their concerns about the environmental impact of the project, pointing to the fact that an earlier proposal for the pipeline route was rejected due to concerns over potential contamination of majority white town Bismarck, North Dakota’s water supply.

Oil industry supporters argue that pipelines are safer alternative to hauling fuel by tanker trucks or freight trains. “Environmental analysis comparing pipelines to rail finds pipelines will result in fewer incidents, barrels released, personal injuries, and greenhouse gas emissions,” says John Stoody, a spokesperson for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, in a statement to CityLab. He cites an environmental impact statement conducted by the U.S. State Department comparing the impact of rail delivery of crude oil to that of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Additionally, a 2013 study from the conservative Manhattan Institute found that road transportation had an annual accident rate of 19.95 incidents per billion ton miles and rail transportation had 2.08 incidents per billion ton miles, compared to 0.89 incidents per billion ton miles for natural gas transmission and 0.58 serious incidents per billion ton miles for hazardous liquid pipelines.

Environmentalists, however, point to a lack of adequate state and federal regulation and the difficulties of maintaining millions of miles of aging pipeline infrastructure in their warnings about the dangers of spills, fires, and other accidents. And data from the federal government suggests such concerns should be taken seriously. Over the last twenty years, more than 9,000 significant pipeline-related incidents have taken place nationwide, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The accidents have resulted in 548 deaths, 2,576 injuries, and over $8.5 billion in financial damages. (Not counted in this total are thousands of less “significant" pipeline-related malfunctions.)

To better understand the extent of this damage, CityLab mapped out all significant pipeline accidents between 1986 and 2016, based on federal data compiled by Richard Stover, an environmental advocate and former research astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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What’s happening at the center of this awesome elliptical galaxy? Long filaments of gas and dust have been imaged in great detail as shown by this recently released image from the Hubble Space Telescope. They appear to connect to the middle of the galaxy, a region thought occupied by a supermassive black hole.

Speculation holds that this black hole pumps out energy that heats surrounding gas all while pushing out cooler filaments of gas and dust. Balanced by magnetic fields, these filaments then appear to spiral back in toward and eventually circle the center.

NGC 4696 is the largest galaxy in the Centaurus Cluster of Galaxies, located about 150 million light years from Earth. This image shows a region about 45,000 light years across.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, A. Fabian

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RSC Fusil Semi-Automatique Mle1917

Designed by Ribeyrolles, Sutter, and Chauchat - made by the Manufacture d’Armes de Tulle in France c.1917~18.
8x51mmR Lebel five-round en-bloc clip, gas-operated semi-automatic, loaded from the bottom.

Made with several Lebel parts, the RSC Mle1917 was the first semi-automatic military rifle to be mass-issued and used during a major conflict, namely World War one. It was a far cry from the revolutionary designs of the French rifle trials of the early 20th century, but it was decently reliable and provided a lot more firepower than the old Lebel Mle1886.