The Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) is more than thirty years old and corrosion (see video below) is becoming more and more of an issue all along the route from the North Slope oil fields to Valdez, Alaska. Our concerns are several but can be distilled into three main issues: 1) as the pipeline ages the risk of a major pipeline related oil spill in the Copper River region increases dramatically; 2) the industry charged with preventing that eventuality regularly discharges oil into waterways and sensitive habitats and has a long history of environmental and reporting violations; and 3) the oil company cost to spill is not very high, so they feel free to take risks as it is often cheaper for them to let equipment fail than to maintain it. These three conditions create a very dangerous situation for the long term ecological integrity of this ecosystem and all of us who depend on it.
Because of the importance of this area and the level of risk, Cascadia Wildlands and our partners in Alaska are fighting this on a number of fronts and levels. We are trying to force the oil companies and pipeline operators to monitor and maintain the aging pipeline and proactively prevent spills here and elsewhere. We are also trying to make that happens and more by establishing and empowering a citizen’s oversight committee that will evaluate the effectiveness of pipeline maintenance and monitoring actions and make recommendations for changes. And lastly, we are developing regional and national awareness of this issue so we can fix some of the root causes for this dangerous situation which range from oil industry oversight and environmental regulation enforcement to lifestyle choices that will reduce the demand for fossil fuels in the first place.
links and resources
5. Whole Truth Campaign website (information on efforts to hold Exxon accountable for the 1989 oil spill that crippled the local economy and the biological diversity in Prince William Sound)