From: Dan Joling, Associated Press
Published March 3, 2006 12:00 AM

Crude Oil Spills from Transit Line in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Crude oil spilled Thursday from a pipe transit line at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope, and dangerous fumes were preventing crews from cleanup work.

The oil could be seen on the snow-covered tundra more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) east of Barrow. Alaska Department of Conservation spokeswoman Lynda Giguere said the oil was pooling on the frozen ground.

The cause of the spill, discovered early Thursday morning by BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. operators, had not been determined and it was unclear how much oil had spilled.

The line carries finished, salable crude oil that eventually would find its way to the trans-Alaska pipeline, Giguere said.

The BP-operated transit line was between a gathering center and a pump station in Prudhoe Bay's western operating unit. Gathering centers separate oil from water and other materials that come out of the ground during drilling.

The gathering center was shut down and the line blocked at each end and depressurized, DEC said.

BP safety personnel said high levels of volatile fumes were detected coming from the spilled oil by air monitors. A spill response team was kept away from the site until safety officials determined levels were safe.

DEC approved the use of vacuum trucks to remove oil once site access was deemed safe.

Weather was expected to help with cleanup efforts with cold temperatures causing the crude oil to "gel up," Giguere said.

Source: Associated Press

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