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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: July 8

2. Drillers Play Dumb

Have our idiotic oil companies learned a thing from the BP (BP) tragedy? The latest wave of news from these not-so-slick drillers has us thinking the answer is not a drop.

U.S. federal documents revealed this week that Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report) took almost twice as long than it initially claimed to completely seal a burst pipeline that spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana over the weekend. The records showed that it took 56 minutes for Exxon to fully shut down the burst pipeline, which was longer than the 30 minutes the company stated on Tuesday.

Come on guys! Has it not sunk in that the smartest way to deal with messy environmental disasters is to come clean immediately? The cover-up is always worse than the crime and that goes double when the crime is covering up Yogi and Boo-Boo with globs of grease.

The government says the Yellowstone River oil deposits have already traveled downstream about 240 miles. Exxon initially said the leak would affect a 10-mile stretch of the river, but has since admitted that the leak's impact could spread beyond its initial estimates.

Now -- faster than you can say Valdez -- the government is playing hardball with Exxon. Unable to trust the energy giant, the Department of Transportation said it won't permit Exxon to resume the pipeline's operations until the company reburies the pipeline even deeper than before and submits a restart plan.

"The safety of our nation's pipelines is a priority and the investigation into this incident is ongoing," said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

Meanwhile, half a world away off the Chinese coast, ConocoPhillips (COP - Get Report) is defending its role in a series of June oil leaks. The Chinese State Oceanic Administration said the oil covered over 300 square miles in the Penglai area of Bohai Bay, where ConocoPhillips operates seven production platforms along with Chinese partner CNOOC (CEO) .

ConocoPhillips' brass say they informed authorities as soon as the leaks were spotted. The environmental group Greenpeace, however, says the company took over two weeks to report the spill. And Chinese news reports are charging that Chinese authorities and Conoco have failed to provide enough information on the crisis. The press is citing complaints of dead fish, according to the AP, though they said it was unclear whether the deaths were oil-related.

Here's a hint guys. Generally, when you buy a can of sardines or tuna, it comes packed in olive oil. Not crude.
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