Pipe corrosion blamed on Prudhoe Bay oil spill

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2001

PRUDHOE BAY (AP) -- Crews on Monday worked to clean up hundreds of gallons of crude oil spilled at a BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. facility on the North Slope.

The spill of about 420 gallons was discovered Saturday at one of the Prudhoe Bay drill sites, said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell. He said the likely cause was corrosion to a pipe that had been welded.

About a half-acre of the tundra was covered with a spray of oil. A heavily-contaminated area measured 50 feet by 20 feet, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Booms and sand bags were placed around the area most heavily soaked with oil, Chappell said.

Crews were flushing the tundra with warm water and vacuum trucks were being used to suck up the oil and water. The tundra also was lightly oiled so that a weed burner could be used to remove crude oil from vegetation.

Corrosion is a constant problem at the Prudhoe Bay oil field, which was built nearly 25 years ago. In April, corrosion was blamed for causing a 92,400-gallon spill, perhaps the largest ever to contaminate the tundra.

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