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ConocoPhillips Kuparuk Unit facility settles with EPA for Oil Discharge to Tundra on Alaska’s North Slope

Release Date: 12/17/2012
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, EPA Seattle, 206-553-6689, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

(Seattle – December 17, 2012) ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc, has signed a Consent Agreement and Final Order with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stemming from a December, 2007 spill near their Kuparuk Unit petroleum facility on Alaska’s North Slope. As part of the agreement, the company paid a $45,000 penalty.

“Any oil discharge on Alaska’s North Slope can cause harm,” said Jeff KenKnight, manager of EPA’s Water Office permit compliance unit. “Spills can often be reduced or eliminated by upgrading existing maintenance and inspection programs and being more aggressive with spill prevention planning.”

According to EPA enforcement documents, a failure in a 24-inch flow line discharged approximately 102 barrels of mixed water and crude oil to the nearby frozen arctic tundra. Company and contract responders, braving minus-15F degree temperatures, soon constructed a 300-yard-long ice road to improve site access and built snow berms to create secondary containment to help contain the spill.

Using shovels and hot water, the recovery teams recovered and removed crude oil and affected snow, and then hot-water flushed the oil from the tundra. Crude oil was later separated and recovered from the snow.

Under the terms of a separate settlement with the State of Alaska, ConocoPhillips also agreed to recover and restore the spill area.