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Trans-Alaska pipeline

Trans-Alaska pipeline
Accident date
Accident area
Spill area
On land
Cause of spill
Sabotage (bullet hole shot in pipeline)
Nature of pollutant
crude oil
Quantity spilled
970 tonnes
Ship / structure type

In October 2001, American news agencies and specialised bulletins devoted numerous pages to an exceptional event: the perforation of a pipeline transporting crude oil from Prudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez by a bullet hole.

This was not the first time such an incident had occurred. There have been around fifty known cases of angry or inebriated gunmen targeting the pipeline, without ever actually piercing it. However one bullet hole was enough to cause significant damage. The hole was scarcely 1.2 cm in diameter, but it was positioned just above a valve and at the bottom of a hill. The oil spurted out under pressure, to over 20 metres, and took two days to stem using a watertight clamp.

In total, 970 tonnes of crude oil were released over a hectare of tundra. The response involved 200 people and considerable resources for initial clean-up, which was completed in the spring after the thaw. The person responsible was severely fined.

Last update: 29/06/2011

See also

Laura d'Amato, Date : 03/08/1999, Location: Australia

Donges Refinery, Date : 16/03/2008, Location: France