Company Planning Bypass to Restart Trans Alaska Pipeline

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A plan is in the works to get the Trans Alaska pipeline restarted.  The line has been shut down since oil was discovered Saturday leaking into the basement at Pump Station 1 on the North Slope.   The booster pump facility moves oil from storage tanks to the main line, and leaky feeder lines are suspected.  The pipes are encased in concrete and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation On Scene Coordinator Tom DeRuyter says the idea is to go around them.

DeRuyter says it’s unclear how long it will take to install a new line circumventing the 160-foot section of problem pipe, but time is a factor.  Cold weather can freeze water in the oil, blocking the pipeline, or the crude itself can get too thick to pump.  Temperatures have been unusually warm at Pump 1, and DeRuyter says that’s buying time for the bypass and re-start operation.

North Slope production has been cut to 5-percent of normal and the oil is being stored in large tanks at Pump Station 1.  Meanwhile, DeRuyter says most of the 400 gallons of crude oil estimated to have leaked into the pump house basement have been picked up with a vacuum truck.

DeRuyter says no oil reached the tundra, but it’s unclear if any crude has been released into the gravel covering the feeder lines.

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