Teams respond to oil spill at Valdez Terminal

Valdez Oil Spill 2017 Around 11:30am last Thursday, September 21st, a crude oil spill was observed on the water at the West end of Valdez Marine Terminal, near Berth 5. Public Information Officer Kate Dugan said in a statement to media that an investigation is ongoing.

A preventative maintenance task which tests the integrity of loading arms is believed to have caused the spill. The source of the spill is contained.

Valdez Oil Spill 2017

Here is a fact sheet released by Alyeska Pipeline September 23rd – 8:30pm
We will update as more information becomes available.

Quotes from Incident Commander:

“The cause of the spill, piping that released an oily water mix, makes it very difficult to give a precise estimate of the amount spilled,” said Scott Hicks, Incident Commander “But any crude oil in the water is too much, and we will bring all necessary resources and expertise to the response.”

“While we never want this sort of event to occur, we train year round to prepare for events like this, and we have the resources to respond,” said Scott Hicks, Incident Commander. “Crews have been working diligently overnight and will continue again today, keeping safety as their first priority and reducing any impacts to the environment.”

  • Response continues around the clock, focused on the area to the north and northwest of the Terminal around Berths 4 and 5.
  • There are no observed areas of concentrated oil on the water; task forces are focusing on rainbow sheens inside the containment.
  • An overflight confirmed all sheens are within containment.
  • An estimated 400 gallons of an oily water mix has been recovered.
  • Wildlife specialists are closely monitoring the affected area, and have not observed any affected wildlife.
  • Response efforts include over 23,000 feet of boom, and 25+ vessels.
  • Thirteen Vessels of Opportunity are assisting.
  • Small vessel decontamination is staged at the Terminal small boat harbor.
  • Overflights have been used track response progress.

Impacts to Shipping

  • Alyeska has worked with Federal and State of Alaska officials, TAPS Owners, TAPS Shippers and Marine Shippers and have adjusted the schedule. The next tanker is due to arrive early next week.
  •  Terminal inventory is at 26%, and the response is not expected to impact North Slope production.

Safety and Security Zones

  • The USCG has established a safety zone from the western edge of the Valdez Marine Terminal security zone to Anderson Bay. All vessels not involved in the response are to avoid that area.
  • Mariners are also advised to avoid the booming around Solomon Gulch Hatchery and the Valdez Duck Flats.
  • A temporary flight restriction is in place, a two mile radius from the VMT to 2000ft above it.

Preliminary determination of the cause of the spill

Alyeska crews were conducting planned annual maintenance of the loading arms; to test the integrity of the loading arms, a fire water pump routed salt water through the system at an increased pressure.

During a pause in the testing, oily test water flowed back through hose and piping related to the maintenance, out of the fire system salt water intake piping, and into Port Valdez.

Boom was deployed at the time of the loading arm testing; the salt water intake piping which was the source of the spill was outside of the booming.

Alyeska personnel have confirmed the cause was not mechanical or piping integrity, and that a problem occurred during the execution of the loading arm testing.

Alyeska has initiated a full investigation of the event to confirm these findings.