Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Alaska Oil Spill: Trans-Alaska Pipeline Shuts Down 800 Mile Area In North Slope

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Up to several thousand barrels of crude oil from the trans-Alaska pipeline spilled Tuesday into a massive tank and overflowed into a containment area, shutting down the 800-mile line until the hazard is removed. The spill happened during a scheduled pipeline shutdown at a pump station near Fort Greely, about 100 miles south of Fairbanks. Workers at the site evacuated. But no one was hurt and the contamination should be limited to the gravel on top of the containment area's liner, said Tom DeRuyter, on-scene spill coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Oil companies operating on Alaska's North Slope were ordered to reduce production to 16 percent of their regular output. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. has enough storage capacity at another pump station to hold that amount of output for 48 hours, company spokeswoman Michele Egan said. But she said the pipeline could be restarted sooner.
Egan added that "several thousand barrels" was a high estimate of the spill.
Alyeska was testing its fire command system when power at the pump station failed, Egan said. Power was switched from the electrical grid to a battery system.
The pipeline has relief valves that open to keep pressure from building too high inside. They opened, and oil flowed into a partially filled tank that can hold 55,000 barrels, or roughly 2.3 million gallons.


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