Even though our country is still up to its ears in oil in some places in the Gulf, BP continues to disappoint with shocking reports on shoddy oil infrastructure. First it was the other Gulf of Mexico BP oil well, the Atlantis, which was dubbed a “ticking time bomb”. Now a new report has declared that BP’s Oil pipeline in Alaska — the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which leaked large amounts of oil in 2006 and earlier this year — is in many areas more than 80% corroded; in an internal memo it got a “F” grade for maintenance. The report noted 148 pipes in the North Slope of Alaska that are currently under distress and in danger of leaking toxic substances across the pristine Alaskan wilderness.
The news about the unsafe pipeline was leaked by ProPublica a non-profit news agency that obtained internal memos detailing the safety breaches. Steven Rinehart, a spokesperson for BP, told ProPublica that they have an, “aggressive maintenance policy in Alaska,” and that they would, “not operate equipment or facilities that we believe are unsafe.” However, BP workers in Alaska told the organization that oil and waste storage facilities were nearing failure and that many of the warning systems were unreliable and outdated. The pipeline is currently running at levels well beyond what it was normally designed to handle, and according to one welder that works on the line some sections, “have hundreds of patches on them.”
After seeing all of those cheery commercials about how BP workers are down in the Gulf trying to make things right, all this news about how unsafe their other oil production properties are is distressing. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline has leaked oil in the past and has been previously shut down in order to replace stretches of pipes, but it still seems to be on the brink of collapse. Though BP has noted that it expanded its spending program to address maintenance and equipment upgrades, a BP official told the media that it could take at least 20 years to replace the pipeline at current spending levels.