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Major Inland Oil Spills on Alaska's North Slope

Date Posted: September 28, 2001

Two major inland oil spills occurred earlier this year at Alaska’s North Slope oil production facilities. Both were the result of pipeline breaks. The first occurred when a six-inch flowline ruptured while BP was attempting to thaw ice that had plugged up the line. Two hundred and twenty four barrels of crude oil and methanol were spilled along the shoreline of a frozen lake. Cleanup extended into the summer as ice melted and oil and methanol were released from the thawing tundra. The second spill occurred at a Phillips Petroleum’s Kuparuk oil field and was caused by corrosion in the line. Over 92,000 gallons of produced water and crude oil were discharged onto the snow and frozen tundra. The spill was controlled using sand bags and booms. Cleanup at this site consisted of spraying contaminated areas with warm fresh water and then removing the polluted water with a vac truck. This process had to be repeated several times in order to loosen and remove the crude oil. The site was then monitored throughout the summer to determine the extent of tundra impacted by the water cleanup process.

Catherine Berg, 907-786-3598.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Environmental Quality. Oil and Other Hazardous Waste Spills -

Last updated: June 12, 2015