FAIRBANKS (AP) -- An estimated 2,000 gallons of a kerosene and crude oil mixture spilled at the Williams Alaska Refinery in North Pole early Thursday.
''It is a significant spill,'' said Tom DeRuyter of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. ''It was fortunate that it was in the open where they could get at it.''
Williams discovered the spill at 2:29 a.m. and within 45 minutes had about 1,500 gallons of the mixture collected with a vacuum truck, state regulators said.
The company had been transferring nonmarket quality kerosene to a slop tank for reinjection into the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. The kerosene blends back into the crude.
The spill apparently occurred because a vent on a new line that runs into the slop tank was accidentally left open, said the DEC report on the incident.
''We're trying to figure out why,'' Williams Alaska spokesman Jeff Cook said. ''It is a human error that we don't like to happen.''
Cook said that the weather helped contain the spill. ''The ground is frozen and it is cold,'' he said. ''It was an ideal situation from that standpoint for the contamination not getting into the ground.''
DEC's DeRuyter said it is too soon to determine whether any of the spill has reached the shallow groundwater.
Williams is working to clean up the remaining contamination with an excavator and hand tools.
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