With All Eyes on the Gulf, BP Alaska Facilities Are Still at Risk
BP employees and contractors in Alaska say the facilities there were built in the 1970s to operate for about 15 years. When the company realized there was far more oil to be had, it extended the operation for several more decades. Now workers say equipment, like these high pressure gas lines, isn’t inspected frequently enough and is being “run to failure,” risking a leak and a major explosion. (Photo courtesy of BP workers)
by Abrahm Lustgarten
The extensive pipeline system that moves oil, gas and waste throughout BP’s operations in Alaska is plagued by severe corrosion, according to an internal maintenance report generated four weeks ago.
The document, obtained by ProPublica, shows that as of Oct. 1, 2010 at least 148 BP pipelines on Alaska’s North Slope received an “F-rank” from the company. According to BP oilworkers, that means inspections have determined that more than 80 percent of the pipe wall is corroded and could rupture. Most of those lines carry toxic or flammable substances. Many of the metal walls of the F-ranked pipes are worn to within a few thousandths of an inch of bursting, according to the document, risking an explosion or spills. (mais…)