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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Corrosion found in piping at terminal; Alyeska plans fix

By AUSTIN LOVE
Council Project Manager

A temporary black carbon steel clamp was installed to prevent an oil leak from the localized corroded area. Photo courtesy of Alyeska.
A temporary black carbon steel clamp was installed to prevent an oil leak from the localized corroded area.

In 2012, Alyeska identified a 6 inch wide area of external corrosion on crude oil piping near the end of one of their oil-loading berths, known as Berth 5, at the Valdez Marine Terminal. Corrosion in the 48 inch diameter pipe is of particular concern, as it is located over water.

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Council weighs in on terminal contingency plan changes

By LINDA SWISS
Council Project Manager

Valdez Marine Terminal
Oil storage tanks have a “secondary containment” system surrounding them that would help keep oil out of the environment if a spill from the tanks should occur. The containment system has a liner that would prevent oil from seeping through to the ground. The council recommends routine inspections to make sure the liner remains intact.

The oil spill contingency plan for the Valdez Marine Terminal is undergoing an update, and the council recently had an opportunity to comment on the changes.

The plan, known officially as the Valdez Marine Terminal Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan, contains detailed information about how an oil spill at the terminal can be contained and cleaned up, and ways to prevent an oil spill in the first place.

By law, these plans are required to be reviewed and updated every five years, and these changes are a part of that regular cycle.

Read moreCouncil weighs in on terminal contingency plan changes