Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
April 2020

Vol. 25, No.16 Week of April 19, 2020

Cleanup underway at VMT oily water spill

Unified command in charge, more than 180 involved, as Alyeska, ADEC, Coast Guard tackle results of sump spill which reached water

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservationís Division of Spill Prevention and Response said April 13 that Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. had reported an oily water spill at the Valdez Marine Terminal.

Alyeska personnel discovered the spill - they observed sheen near the VMT small boat harbor - and reported it to ADEC April 12.

Responders were on the scene within an hour of the sheen being reported at about 8 p.m. April 12, Alyeska said in an April 14 release, with response activities including deployment of sorbents sweeps, sausage boom and containment boom. The company said a team of vessels was dispatched and continue deploying current buster boom while another team of responders is performing on-land cleanup.

As of 4:30 p.m. April 14, ADEC said in its second situation report on the incident, some 423 barrels of oily water had been recovered.

A unified command was established April 14 to deal with the VMT incident, with representatives from Alyeska, ADEC and the U.S. Coast Guard.

As of 1 p.m. April 15, the unified command said some 610 barrels of water/oil mix had been recovered. ďAn overflight this morning confirmed there is no noticeable sheen outside of the boomed area,Ē unified command said in a release.

Sump overflow

ADEC initially said that while the cause was under investigation, early indication was that the mixture of crude oil and water was leaking from a sump that overflowed.

The April 15 unified command release said the sump, uphill from the terminal, was the source of the discharge, and that there was no continuing discharge.

While the source is known, the unified command said the cause of the spill was still under investigation.

ADEC said April 14 that the sump had been emptied and a vac truck had been on site. The sump continues to be monitored, the company said, and the ballast water header which enters the sump was isolated at 10 p.m. April 13.

The oil traveled beneath the snow covered surface and came out near the head of Berth 4 into Port Valdez, ADEC said, with sheen seen east of Berth 4 to the VMT small boat harbor.

The unified command said April 15 that engineers, inspectors and operations technicians were working to identify the flow route for the spill, with resources arriving at the terminal to excavate the area around the sump.

Most of the sheen is contained behind the Berth 4 area with sorbent boom and sweeps, and two layers of hard yellow boom, ADEC said, with oily water being skimmed from a corralled 30-foot by 30-foot area inside the boom, with boom systems being deployed outside the boomed area and trained fishing vessels deployed to catch any escapement.

The unified command said April 15 that 14 vessels of opportunity and a number of Alyeska workboats were conducing response activities on the water, placing boom, operating skimmers, providing surveillance, swapping out boom when needed and providing logistical support.

More than 180 people are involved including personnel in the field, at the command post and remotely.

Unified command said there were no operational impacts to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

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