ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Officials with the company that runs the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline and tanker port at Valdez say they won't be installing any more equipment to capture toxic vapors released during oil loading.
Despite some criticism from a watchdog group that monitors tanker shipping and the port, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. said it can handle the situation with the equipment already there.
The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council wants Alyeska to install the vapor recovery equipment to reduce air pollution.
Alyeska argued at the time it came under scrutiny from the federal Environmental Protection Agency that the vapor collection equipment on two of its four loading berths would be enough.
The company said North Slope oil production was falling and that the equipped berths could handle the oil flow. Alyeska installed $100 million worth of vapor collection equipment on two of its loading berths.
Under a 1995 agreement with the federal government, Alyeska was allowed to load a portion of oil without vapor recovery until 2002. After that time, oil can be loaded without vapor recovery only for maintenance reasons.
But the same companies that own Alyeska -- primarily BP, Phillips and Exxon -- say now that North Slope production will not be falling in the coming years. They say oil flow has been stabilized at around 1 million barrels a day through 2009.
The new production numbers along with a number of problems at the terminal is forcing Alyeska to load a small amount of oil without vapor recovery. That prompted the Regional Citizens Advisory Council request for vapor equipment at another berth.
A sparking incident and valve trouble last month forced Alyeska to close one of two main loading docks. As a result, the company is doing more loading without vapor recovery.
''They need the flexibility of having another berth (with the equipment),'' said John Devens, RCAC executive director.
''Equipment is getting older,'' he told the Anchorage Daily News. ''History has shown us that this is not getting easier for Alyeska.''
Alyeska spokesman Tim Woolston said that one berth alone can handle 80 percent of oil flow. The company will have enough capacity when the second berth returns to service next month, he said.
''It will be a matter of managing tanker schedules and inventory,'' Woolston said.
11/14/0 7:36 AM Inches: 10.1 REGULAR BC-WolfRestoration 11-14 0422
Wolf reintroduction proposed in Southern Rockies
Eds: Versions also moving on national lines.
By JUDITH KOHLER
Associated Press Writer
BROOMFIELD, Colo. (AP) -- An environmental group that successfully campaigned for the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park wants the federal government to do the same in the southern Rockies.
The large expanses of public land and sparse population in the southern Rockies make it an ideal area for gray wolf reintroduction, the Washington, D.C.-based Defenders of Wildlife said Monday. The group also said the move could help bolster wolf recovery nationwide.
''Gray wolves have an important role to play in the biological health and wholeness of the southern Rockies, and it's time for the federal government to get serious about restoring the species here,'' said Roger Schlickeisen, president of the group.
The organization's petition comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks to reduce federal protection for gray wolves, now classified as endangered. In the West, the predators exist in the Northern Rockies and Arizona.
The federal agency likely will incorporate the petition into public comments and other material to be reviewed as part of the proposal to eventually remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list, spokeswoman Sharon Rose said.
If the agency's proposal were approved, it would fall on states to manage wolves, including any reintroduction programs. Only Mexican wolves, a subspecies of the gray wolf released in Arizona, would remain endangered at the federal level.
The southern Rockies encompass western Colorado, and parts of Utah, southern Wyoming, northern New Mexico and Arizona.
Wolves were eliminated from most of their range in the Lower 48 by the early 1900s as a result of widespread slaughter by settlers and organized extermination efforts by the government. It is believed the last wolf was killed in Colorado in 1945.
After years of political and legal wrangling, the Fish and Wildlife Service released Canadian wolves in Yellowstone and central Idaho in 1995.
Agency officials say wolves are flourishing in Yellowstone, Idaho and Montana, and federal protection won't be needed once those populations maintain certain levels. There now are more than 300 animals in the northern Rockies, where 66 were released initially.
On the Net:
Defenders of Wildlife: http://www.defenders.org
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: http://www.fws.gov
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