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Drift River Oil Terminal: what next? 28 August 2009

Posted by admin in Alaska, natural hazards, Redoubt, United States.
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The future of the Drift River Oil Terminal remains unclear, after a public meeting on Monday night that brought together the agencies responsible for the terminal and members of local communities revealed that no-one, including the people running the place, knows quite what happens next.

The oil terminal, which stands at the mouth of the Drift River in the path of lahars from Redoubt volcano (which continues to exhibit ‘significant activity’), was shut down after Redoubt erupted in March, and was finally drained of most of the stored oil that remained on-site at the end of April and beginning of May. There was talk in mid-July of the terminal coming back on line this month, but that seems to have been quietly forgotten. The word that came from the Cook Inlet Pipeline Company (CIPL) at the meeting, reports the Peninsula Clarion, is that the terminal ‘won’t be used to store more oil anytime in the near future’, but beyond that things are very vague. ‘We will work on long term plans’, says CIPL’s Rod Ficken, ‘there are a lot of different scenarios on the table’. In the immediate future a ‘tightline’ system will be used with oil stored in company tanks and piped direct to tankers without being stored at Drift River; longer term, tankage may be expanded at other regional facilities.

Meanwhile the ‘Unified Command’ established in March to oversee the terminal during the eruption is to disband and the facility is to be run and regulated as normal, a process which will involve using ‘transition’ as a verb:

Gary Folley, the state on-scene coordinator for DEC [Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation], complimented the UC [Unified Command] Monday night, on the responses and actions taken though the situation.

‘The formation of Unified Command was a big improvement from the response organization in 1989 and ’90. The main thing is that all the key decision makers were in one place and this allowed for quick decisions … It is now time for Unified Command to stand down. Regulatory oversight of the terminal will transition back to normal agency functions’, he said.

Environmental pressure group Cook Inletkeeper have long been worried about oil being stored at the Drift River terminal. Now that it seems oil will not be stored there but piped direct to tankers they are worried about that instead: ‘now, with the implementation of tightline operations, tanker traffic in the inlet will increase, posing the potential for new and increased risks’.

News
Public to hear plans for Drift River terminalAnchorage Daily News, 14 August 2009
Kenai town hall discusses crude oil stored near Mount Redoubt – KTUU.com, 24 August 2009
No new oil to be stored near Mount Redoubt – KTUU.com, 25 August 2009
Sleepy but not gone to bed: Mount Redoubt continues to exhibit ‘significant activity’Peninsula Clarion, 26 August 2009
Oil terminal to stay unused: Cook Inlet production not anticipated to fully recoverPeninsula Clarion, 26 August 2009

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