Monday, November 8, 2010

Internal study finds BP’s Alaska pipelines on verge of failing

WASHINGTON - The pipeline system that moves oil, gas and waste between BP's operations in Alaska is plagued by severe corrosion, an internal maintenance report says.

The document, obtained by the independent investigative journalism group ProPublica, and reported on Nov. 4 by ProPublica’s Abrahm Lustgarten, shows that as of Oct. 1, at least 148 BP pipeline points on Alaska's North Slope received an ''F-rank'' from the company.

BP workers say this means inspections have found that more than 80 per cent of the pipe wall is corroded and could leak or rupture.

Most of the pipelines carry toxic or flammable substances. The document says many metal walls of the F-ranked pipes are worn within millimeters of bursting, risking an explosion or spills.

BP oil workers say the company's fire and gas warning systems are unreliable, that the giant turbines that pump oil and gas through the system are ageing and that some oil and waste holding tanks are verging on collapse.

BP's Alaska spokesman, Steve Rinehart, said the company had ''an aggressive and comprehensive pipeline inspection and maintenance program'', which included spending millions of dollars and regularly testing for safety, reliability and corrosion.

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