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Thousands of Barrels of Oil Leaking from Alaska Pipeline

Autonomedia writes: "Anchorage, AK, Oct. 4 - It's a first for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, but it's a distinction officials with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. hoped never to talk about.

A bullet pierced a section of the 800-mile pipeline Thursday, sending thousands of barrels of oil into a remote area about 100 miles north of Fairbanks. Alyeska would not say exactly where the spill occurred because they wanted to keep the area secure.
     Alyeska was working through the night to clean up the spill.

     Authorities arrested Daniel Carson Lewis, 37. They said Lewis lives about a mile from where the bullet pierced the pipeline. Lewis was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and may face federal charges.

     Authorities say Lewis shot the hole in the pipeline then left the scene, but they say his brother remained behind and told Troopers what had happened. It took Troopers three hours to catch Lewis. The area was not secure, they said, and that’s why so much of the oil spilled.

     Tim Woolston with Alyeska said oil was leaking from the pipeline at a rate of about 140 gallons a minute, and that about 20,000 barrels of oil was still in the section of pipe.

     Woolston said it was possible that the line had been shot with a high-powered rifle.

     Production at Prudhoe Bay was dramatically cut back.

     “The oil does continue to leak out of the pipeline," Woolston said Thursday around 6 p.m.

     "We’re in the process now of trying to determine a plan to stop the leak and simultaneously applying to clean up the oil that has spilled on the ground.”

     “There’s a lot of oil in that section of the pipe,” Woolston said about the stretch north of Fairbanks. “So that’s our concern at this point, determining how to stop that flow of oil through that hole in pipe.”

     An Alyeska surveillance helicopter spotted oil leaking around 3:30 p.m but the cleanup didn’t begin until around 7:30 p.m.

     Alyeska said they would release the specific location of the spill after a 10:30 a.m. press conference Friday.

     Woolston said there have been about 50 attempts over the past 24 years to puncture the pipeline, none successful until Thursday.

     “We have taken a number of bullets out of the insulation that surrounds the pipeline and detected indentations caused by bullets that have never been able to puncture the pipeline.  It’s pretty thick steel,” Woolston said."