Sometimes lightning is just lightning


pb-130811-venezuela-fire-jb-02.photoblog900It’s probably wisest to resist drawing any wider inferences from the refinery fire in Puerto La Cruz yesterday. Silly though it sounds, it really is true that sometimes lightning just hits a refinery and causes a fire. By some accounts, there are 5-7 such events worldwide each year, so it’s not even that rare. We can probably chalk this one up to Zeus, then.

But the events of Puerto La Cruz do serve as a timely reminder: where’s the report on the far-from-inevitable explosion that left over 40 dead in Paraguaná last year? You know the report I’m talking about: the one they promised to publish no more than 120 days after the event?

It’ll be a year since that event two weeks and, so far, nothin’.

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  1. The opposition doesn’t do a follow up of anything in a consistent way. It doesn’t help it doesn’t have money or access to TV channels.

    Remember this:
    Remember FONDEN and Carlos Ramos’ denunciations and so many more?
    They all are as far away from the brain of the average Venezuelan as the Alpha Centauri star from Maturín.

    What happened to the investigations about the Caracazo? (including those announced by Chavismo, of all groups) Nothing. Nothing will ever happen in the Land of Amnesia.

    • I agree with you, the oppo should do an accountability press conference every monday outlining every single promise the government have made and show if there are results or not, including accidents, events, etc. With video of the promises and video of the results.

      The question is: who is going to cover that weekly press conference? what media will show it?

      I think they should do it anyways.

      • “should do an accountability press conference”–Definitely a sound measure Jau.

        And if they did this, they would find the correct avenue for release, of this info, which the public could, and would eventually follow. A great customer service vehicle for the opposition.

        • Oh for FUCK’S sake…nobody clicked on the last link:

          A top-opposition spokesperson DID what you’re slamming the opposition for not doing just a few days ago!

          You’re missing the point completely: it’s not that MUD doesn’t follow up anything, it’s that MUD has shit for media access, to the point where even the kinds of people who read CaracasChronicles don’t hear about their initiatives!

          • That “follow up”, with all good intention, is as effective as the seret thoughts of some opposition guy about how he would answer to Diosdado Cabello.
            Would another media help? Certainly, but one thing they don’t do is this: a
            centralised location with clear digital presence offering the different cases and linked to a record of demands that have been sent to both the government AND the international press and relevant international organisations.
            Chavismo will receive every day a thousand petitions and do absolutely nothing. It would have a more difficult situation if we kept reminding them that the rest of the world has received a copy of this and that petition.
            This should be carried out by a central group that is not just spamming the world with every undocumented complain but with very specific, well presented cases.

          • There should be a running list, like El Universal’s corruption list, with dates and deadlines if applicable, links to background but not much more.

            I think Kepler’s approach is also good. There is nothing like a ticker to catch your attention.
            Remember the USA debt counter Big numbers are scary. How about the corruption and crime mortality counters?

            Oh, yeah, and Jesse, why are you still around??
            (aside: anyone want to update the english wikipedia version?

          • I think that is one of the most common habits from some people in the Oppo, they ignore that there are other resources, besides Globo, to get information from. I happen to tweet sometimes briefings from the MUD and people ask me where I get it from, I just happen to look at the website, either Capliles or the MUD.

          • Sure, we know about these things, but we are looking for this information.
            The thing should be that if José Gregorio Rodríguez from Punto Fijo wants to go to Caracas, he gets a cheaply printed but readable flyer about how the government has been lying and how Venezuela is lagging behind.
            And every ambassador and every high ranking official of Chavismo also get in their email a selection of the well-documented, to-the-point denunciations we are sending to the international media and to international organisations…we are not talking about the fluffy statements about the latest elections but clearly documented NO GO/NOT TOLERABLE things, like Morales’ statements about the division of powers or
            the FONDEN plundering or the fact that Cordero Lara, a man accused of crimes against humanity, is a deputy (and I know the opposition has “followed up” the case by denouncing Cordero once a year at the National Assembly (but not at international level or on the buses from Punto Fijo to Caracas)

          • You‘re right, still I think we need to pitch in, those of us a little bit more interested share with those not so eager to search for info, and you don‘t need to be a political party activist to do so. My point is, I read a lot of people complaining about this and they are not even willing to send a single email to their contacts, letting them know what is going on.

          • Okay, but this is so important. Do not let the negatives get in your way.

            For example, use the ‘Word of Mouth’ approach. Turn your people’s voices into an avenue for media access. Create chain letter type verbal commercials for friends, aquaintances, and Chavista’s that are on the line. Sure, this is hard and there are hurdles, but it works. This is the way it used to be done before newspapers, tv, radios.

            If there is the desire, it will not only work, but it might also have a far greater effect than using commercial avenues.

            So, instead of conjuring up that it can’t be done, act now. In the USMC, whether right or wrong(everybody has their opinion on this aspect), they anyhow almost always succeed because they believe that there is always a way, and they find it! This Marine Corps slogan says it all: WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING.

      • That’s great. What we need is a lot of coordination so that things can be reached easily and people do not have to navigate. The MUD should be trying to do something like that, or at least to communicate and promote.
        By the way: I was just looking at this
        the Chinese in Borburata…and an “engineer” talking about the Comandante Supremo que está allí, en el cielo (minute 1:50). They want to build a satellite but we need Chinese to put a brick upon another brick.

      • Excellent!! What better way to put a grade on different politicians than to add accomplishments – broken promises, weighted by economic/social impact…

  2. there are hundreds of refineries around the world with lots of flamable stuff, so accidents do happen ocassionaly, but pdvsa has a far worse record of terrible accidents after the 2002 strike than before, wich is logical considering they trained half of their staff from zero, still, the saddest part of this issue is that people complained that pdvsa was a black box in la 4ta and now is far darker with no overseing or accountability, we really don’t know how many smaller accidents occur in the refineries or how much money are they investing in mantenience or pretty much anything about the gallina de los huevos de oro, we only know that frecuently stuff explodes near civilian population

  3. The report you linked to says that lightning is responsible for 1/3 of the 15-20 fires annually which occur at such facilities. That’s five to seven per year, worldwide. It says nothing about fires caused by armadillos or lagartos of any kind, however.

    • We are currently on break, in order to give Jesse Chacon a chance, although now that the “Electrical Emergency” has been extended another 95 days, we may just have to come back from break sooner than expected.

      I’ve been trying to get some “Rabipelaos” (Possum to you gringos) to join the movement but all they want to do is play dead……..and we need some REAL cable biters!!!

  4. What sucks about the situation is that the only thing worse than an incompetent rojo rojito workforce is a well trained rojo rojito workforce.

  5. The Amuay accident was the subject of some very revealing reports by several international surveyors hired both by Pdvsa and by the International insurers , Understand the result is as ‘explosive’ as the accident itself for what it reveals of the sorry state of Pdvsa´s operations and safety practices. Of ourse its kept under wraps and there apppears ti be no oppo journalist prepared to do the homework needed to convert it into a juicy expose´. Hope MCM delivers on her promise !! She will have to contend with a population whose attention span is very short and frail . The story is there, but no one is willing to dig for it. !! The risk posed by lighning is much exagerated , there are now on the market some very sophisticated and efficient lightning rods and every oil installation routinely has them by the dozen . In the Pto La Cruz case it appears that lightning struck an open lagoon full of oil residues , the thing is that those lagoons are not easily flammable but their catching fire although rare is within the realm of the possible . The simultanous stoppage of all El Palito operations because of an electrical accident now that usually very preventable and a give away that maintenance of electrical facilities is probably not what it should be.!!

    • If as reported Pdvsa fired the Insurance agent handling its Insurance coverage after 13 years, why would it do that ?? any possible connection to the Amuay accident ?? could it be that theyve had some indemnity collection problems ?? Gosh why would anybody think that ??

      • I don’t know if this is true but I hear PDVSA never made an insurance claim for the Amuay explosion. One could speculate quite a bit on the reason.

        • Pdvsa handles its insurance cover through an offshore captive affiliate so that actually a claim would be routed only to international Reinsurers through that captive. There are copies of the insurance surveyors reports on Amuay refinery just prior to the accident which are accesible through internet and it doesnt make for comforting reading , quite the opposite , one example they report that in 2011 there were 220 odd incidents of which 100 where fires , and that although investigating teams were set up to look up on these incidents only 6 produced a report meaning that in the 214 other cases nothing was done, The language tries to be technically neutral but nonetheless reveal a state of affairs which can only be described as worrysome . The very fact that nothing more has been said by the authorities about the accident is a strong signal that what has been discovered doesnt help Pdvsa’s image . After an accident standard practice mandates that international surveyors produce a report on its causes to the underwriters , the silence surrounding this report means that the story it tells is for Pdvsa nothing to brag about.

          • The following is an excerpt from 2012 annual report as reported by El Universal : “underwritten policies cover the total amount of the expenses necessary to restore the affected assets and meet the commitments arisen from civil liability.”

            The document added, however, that a portion of USD 87 million is “related to deductible expenses and the share of risk assumed by Pdvsa.”

            The state oil company continues waiting for the completion of the related steps in order to collect the insurance for the accident.

  6. While accidents do happen, having effective lighting protection with air terminals properly positioned and bonded to a properly installed grounding rod and maintained properly reduces the risk considerably. Anyone care to request that PDVSA produce a copy of the last regularly scheduled inspection report of the tank’s protection system? Or, did it even have one?


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