Alyeska made significant progress with its spill response operations at the Trans Alaska Pipeline. On Tuesday, an oil spill occurred during a scheduled shutdown at Pump Station 9 of the pipeline.
Overnight crews drew down oil levels in Tank 190. Full power is restored to the station and plans today include recovery of the spill and decontamination of the containment area, moving toward normal pipeline operations. Alyeska’s response thus far has followed a controlled, systematic approach to ensure personnel safety.
“There was outstanding work accomplished overnight,” said John Baldridge, Pipeline Director and Incident Commander. “At 3 a.m. when power was restored to the station, the facility and the crews were re-energized.”
Baldridge encouraged employees to continue the momentum as work continued today, “being sure to always think about keeping yourselves and your co-workers safe.”
Two of the six steps outlined in the oil spill response strategy have been accomplished: Restoring power to the 65 KW generator and restoring pump station power. Two other steps are under way: Drawing down oil from Tank 190 and removing oil in the tank containment area. As those operations continue, the focus will now be on planning for steps 5 and 6: starting the pipeline and resuming full operations on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.
The incident occurred Tuesday morning during a planned six-hour pipeline shutdown. Work along the pipeline during this shutdown included testing Pump Station 9’s fire command system. During this work, a power failure at the station caused valves that are normally closed on the tank to open, as they are designed to do if power is interrupted. Tank 190 subsequently overflowed into a containment area that surrounds the tank and has an impermeable liner. There were no injuries or impact to the environment due to the incident.
The 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is one of the world's largest pipeline systems. Starting in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope, TAPS stretches through rugged and beautiful terrain to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in North America. Since pipeline startup in 1977, Alyeska - TAPS' operator - has successfully transported more than 16 billion barrels of oil.