Alaska Pipeline Partly-Owned by BP Shut Down After Oil Spill
As if the news for BP couldn’t get any worse.
A scheduled fire-command system test at Pump Station 9, about 100 miles south of Fairbanks, triggered an unexpected opening of relief valves, and caused an unspecified volume of crude oil to overflow a storage tank into a secondary containment.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) was completely shut down after an unknown quantity of oil overflowed from a 55,000-barrel storage tank at a pumping station. Environmental officials say that as much as several thousand barrels of oil may have escaped into the containment area.
The containment area has the capacity to hold over 100,000 barrels of oil, and no spillage escaped beyond the containment zone, according to a spokeswoman for pipeline operator, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. (APSC). Fortunately, nobody was injured, however, approximately 40 workers were evacuated for precautionary reasons.
Alaskan officials say they are concerned that some of the vapors can potentially start a fire and have dispatched spill response crews to the scene.
BP, who owns 47 percent of APSC, is its largest shareholder. Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips also hold a stake in the pipeline. TAPS, stretching over 800 miles, conveys oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska and was built between 1974 and 1977.
Last month a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, uncontrollably flooding the region with thousands of barrels of oil per day. That disaster, deemed by many to be the worst oil spill in American history, has already cost over $700 million in cleanup and untold ecological damage.