Reason for Concern
A spill from a pipeline breach on one of the 5 crossed tributaries could quickly end up in the main stem of the Copper River. Due to the silty, braided waters of the Copper River, satisfactory spill clean-up efforts would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. The spawning and migratory habitat of the world-famous Copper River salmon could suffer long-term damage from lingering oil.
Despite oversight from state and federal regulators there have been repeated TAPS leaks and spills over the last several years. Just in 2011 there has been a 13,000-gallon spill in January that shutdown the entire pipeline and a series of spills in July. In March 2006, corrosion in BP’s network of feeder lines caused a spill of more than 260,000 gallons of oil, the worst in the history of the Alaska’s North Slope.
If we have learned one thing from Exxon Valdez, it is to never become complacent. Spill prevention is expensive, but spill recovery is infinitely more costly. If the salmon runs of the Copper River are damaged by oil, our communities will not only lose an income source, but an entire way of life. As Gulkana Village Council member, Ray Neely explains: “We eat fish, we don’t eat money.”
Please click on the link below to download a PDF of selected TAPS incidents: