Himfr.com reports Giant oil spill in Alaska likely caused by ice

By: overmoon | Posted: 11th December 2009

Alaska - Officials believe that ice plugged up a pipeline and likely caused a rupture that sent 46,000 gallons of crude oil and water gushing onto

snow-covered tundra on Alaska's North Slope late last month.

The spill is one of the worst by volume since the March 2006 spill of 200,000 gallons of crude at Prudhoe Bay, the biggest spill ever on the North

Slope, according to Department of Environmental Conservation figures.

BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said Wednesday that an ice buildup is likely to blame in the Nov. 29 spill, leading to an increase in pressure that

caused the 18-inch diameter pipe to rupture.

Oil and water sprayed out of a 2-foot lengthwise rupture along the bottom of the pipe. Up to three-quarters of an acre of tundra was affected. Most

of the oil and water congealed in a large pile under the pipe.

"There is a lot of material on the ground," said Tom DeRuyter, the on-scene spill coordinator for the Alaska Department of Conservation.

The pipeline normally carried 75 percent water and 25 percent oil, as well as gas, to a processing center at the Lisburne oil field. It is not

known what the percentages were when the line ruptured, Rinehart said.

Responders were using a variety of methods to clean up the spill. Methods include applying steam to loosen the congealed material and vacuum it up.

Equipment also was brought in to scoop up the oil and frozen water and transport it to an area where it will be melted, separated and measured.

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