Submitted by Alyeska. This profile is from their Memories & Mileposts story collection which commemorates 45 years of TAPS operations.
After helping build the Trans Alaska Pipeline, or TAPS, from 1974-1977, operating rock trucks, fuel trucks, boom trucks, and forklifts, including working on a Hercules aircraft team offloading critical supplies while Wein F-27s were hauling workers in and out nearby, from Galbraith Lake to Coldfoot, Jeff Streit transitioned to removing remnants of that historic construction effort. He demobilized Prospect, Oldman, and 5-Mile camps, loading piece by piece onto numerous high deck trailers to be shipped out of state. Jeff even saw one of those Hercules blow up at the Galbraith airport. After crossing the Yukon River for years on a powerful hovercraft barge, he helped load up its dismantled pieces when the bridge was complete.
Seeing the signs that this phase was finite, Jeff sought a long-term gig on the now-operating pipeline. He followed a lead from a construction buddy about technician openings at Pump Station 8.
“I put in my application, took an aptitude test, and to my surprise got an interview with the station manager,” he said. “They offered me a job. I was excited and accepted, reported to PS8, and took the tour with a senior technician. He used to be a manager at a chemical plant and I thought to myself, ‘I will be lucky to last a week. I don’t know a darn thing about a pump station.’”
Jeff has lasted — more than 48 years on TAPS, in fact. And he knows a whole darn lot about its pump stations, history, people, and culture.
When asked what has kept him on TAPS so long, Jeff replied, “Curiosity, passion, being a student of the pipeline. It has always been a journey and never a job. And never wavering from the mission of doing my best each day to meet the core values of protecting people, the environment, and the TAPS system has kept me focused and energized. TAPS faces new challenges every day; the job is never done to continue learning and understanding the system. The system will always tell you what it needs if you are listening and watchful.”
Jeff is someone who still listens and learns, noting his “knowledge base, which I continue to build on.” His TAPS resume is filled with countless pipeline perspectives and illustrates endless opportunities to train, teach, and learn from others. Jeff has worked as a technician at three pump stations; a task force supervisor; a project supervisor; a pump station operations supervisor; a pipeline technician trainer; supervisor of the North and South Districts and the OCC; a process safety advisor; and as pipeline and civil maintenance supervisor at the Glennallen Response Base/RBS, where he’s been the past 14 years.
“My best memories are many, but the most powerful and influential are from the people who I have worked with since the construction days, that took a special effort to offer a helping hand to teach, coach, and mentor you through new jobs and experiences, and believed in you,” he said. “Being your ‘wingman’ when things are tough – you don’t forget those people.”
Naturally, Jeff feels an obligation to pass on what he’s learned, which is vast. He’s a mentor and instructor to countless TAPS workers in a variety of specialties: pipeline operations and hydraulics, topping units, ROW orientation, hazards of crude oil, OCC, civil supervising, cold restart system, process safety awareness. It’s his way of continuing the legacy of handing down nearly 50 years of TAPS history and complexities, while also paying respect to those who did the same for him.
“We are all basically the product of thousands of others who have taught and shared knowledge, each generation building on the previous,” he said. “I feel strongly that we all have a responsibility to not just pass the knowledge on, but to continue to build on it.”
Jeff’s TAPS experiences, and his memories of them, are rich and vivid, partly because of his impressive retention, partly because he is so thoughtful with his words, and also because he’s conveniently been in the middle of some of the most significant moments in the pipeline’s history, including many before the pipeline was even operating.
Read more from his time working at TAPS on the Alyeska website, beginning in 1978: “A journey, never a job.” – Jeff Streit