Trans-Alaska oil pipeline pumping again

| 10/9/2001

The Trans-Alaska's pipeline is once again pumping crude after being shot by a bullet on Oct. 4. Oil flowed uncontrolled from the bullet hole for more than 36 hours until Alyeska Pipeline Co. capped the leak this past weekend.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the spill spared the state millions of dollars in losses in oil-related taxes but left more than 200,000 gallons of crude for workers to clean up.

Oil companies were told they could again pump at full levels through the 800-mile line on Oct. 7 nearly three days after someone shot a hole in it, spewing 285,600 gallons of crude over more than three acres.

The pipeline was sealed shut Oct. 6, allowing workers to make permanent repairs.

Workers installed the Thread O Ring by threading the bullet hole in the pipeline and then screwing in a half-inch metal plug. They then welded a palm-sized cover over the top of the plug. The pipeline flow was restarted Sunday and was fully operating four hours later.

Despite the two and a half day shutdown, oil supply to the West Coast from Alaska was not interrupted. The United States depends on the Trans Alaska Pipeline to deliver 17 percent of its domestic oil production. A longer delay might have interrupted oil shipping, in which case Alaska could have lost up to $3.1 million in oil revenue each day. Oil-related taxes constitute 78 percent of the state's operating budget.

Reportedly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation, Alyeska and other agencies responding to the spill are still developing a long-term plan for the cleanup and the 88,541 gallons of salvaged oil.