BP's Alaska Pipelines on Verge of Collapse

At least 148 have received an F-rank due to corrosion

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 3, 2010 5:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – BP's vast network of pipelines in Alaska has been left in a sorry state by severe corrosion, according to an internal maintenance report obtained by ProPublica. At least 148 BP pipelines on Alaska's North Slope have received an "F-rank'," which BP workers say means at least 80% of percent of the pipe wall is corroded and could rupture. Many of the lines carry flammable or toxic materials through pipes a small fraction of an inch from bursting.

BP says it has "an aggressive and comprehensive pipeline inspection and maintenance program," but workers complain that the company hasn't been spending enough to keep up with the pipes' decline or to replace outdated warning systems. "They're going to run this out as far as they can without leaving one dollar on the table when they leave," one BP mechanic and welder says. Several employees warn that tanks holding hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic fluids are at risk of collapse.

This undated photo provided by the Alaska Department of Conservation shows a failed 6-inch lateral pipeline.
This undated photo provided by the Alaska Department of Conservation shows a failed 6-inch lateral pipeline.   (AP Photo/Alaska Department of Conservation)
The trans-Alaska oil pipeline crosses remote wind-scraped flatlands in Alaska's north coast near the Beaufort Sea.
The trans-Alaska oil pipeline crosses remote wind-scraped flatlands in Alaska's north coast near the Beaufort Sea.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
An oil transit pipeline runs across the tundra to flow station at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope.
An oil transit pipeline runs across the tundra to flow station at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope.   (AP)
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When you make a complaint about it, rather than fix it right they come up with another Band-Aid. It's very frustrating - Kris Dye, a BP oil worker and United Steelworkers representative

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