North Slope crude oil spills into Port Valdez

Oil collected inside boom during spill. Photo by Jeremy Robida.

Oil collected inside boom during spill. Photo by Jeremy Robida.

On September 21, approximately 100 gallons of North Slope Crude oil was spilled into Port Valdez. The spill occurred during a planned annual leak-test of the pipes that load oil onto tankers out at the end of loading Berth 5 at the Valdez Marine Terminal.

To conduct the annual test, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company uses the berth’s fire system to pump seawater into the crude piping to a pressure of 190 PSI, or pounds per square inch. That pressure is held for a prescribed amount of time to allow inspectors to visually check the pipes for leaks. However, that day Alyeska was unable to achieve the necessary 190 PSI test pressure and an apparent operational error led to a mixture of crude oil and seawater being spilled into Port Valdez. Alyeska is conducting a thorough investigation of the spill.

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We trust, but we must also verify, new improvements in system

Thorough training, paired with a robust array of drills and exercises, will produce the safest prevention and response system

From the Executive Director, Donna Schantz

Donna Schantz

In most professions, it takes time, training, and on-the job learning to do a job well. A doctor or an electrician may earn a degree, but it can take years to become proficient. They must practice and observe a variety of situations before they are trusted to perform surgery or operate independently with live electrical current.

The oil spill prevention and response profession is no different.

In this next year, Edison Chouest Offshore will be bringing in new tugs and barges custom-built for Prince William Sound, new equipment, and new personnel, all playing key roles in spill prevention and response for the Valdez Marine Terminal and associated oil tankers.

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From Alyeska: Well-trained teams mount aggressive response to terminal spill

On September 26, I visited with our team in Valdez, where almost 300 individuals stepped up to respond to a terminal spill that occurred near Berth 5 on September 21. Responders included Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS) staff, other Alyeska and contractor personnel, vessels and crews from the Vessel of Opportunity program, U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation agency personnel, and representatives from the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council. Continue reading

Community Corner: Alaska youth explore the Sound

By Lisa Matlock
Outreach Coordinator

As the skiff sailed across Cabin Bay, high-pitched twittering and piping sounds echoed over the water. Four football-shaped black birds with white wing patches on the water near the point seemed engrossed in calls emanating from speakers and several decoys sitting rigidly on the rock. One of the teens pointed and yelled, “There they are!”

Sam Stark, an Oregon State University researcher leading the teens on their bird adventure, smiled and congratulated her on her keen eye. Stark developed several activities for these lucky middle schoolers, to teach them how scientists work to restore populations of wildlife affected by a major oil spill.

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