A blaze at a pump station in Alaska’s North Slope last month was caused by a worker using a tool near an oil tank vent.
The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company told the Alaska Dispatch News that an April 20 fire was started when a worker was using a wrench that produced a spark close to an oil tank pressure vent.
The fire began as work was being performed at Pump Station 5 to prepare for a maintenance shutdown of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
According to the company’s website, Pump Station 5 is a relief station that provides a mechanism to relieve the pressure that builds up in the pipeline as the oil descends down Atigun Pass.
The blaze shutdown the trans-Alaska pipeline for about nine hours.
No injuries or spills were reported.
An Alyeska Pipeline spokesperson told the paper that a pipeline technician was using an adjustable wrench that slipped and struck a metal object, causing the spark.
The technician did not have fire-dousing equipment with him at the time of the incident because he was not conducting hot work.
A full report is still being completed and will then be reviewed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
According to NBCNews, 58 workers at the site were evacuated during the fire.
The 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline System is one of the world’s largest pipeline systems and stretches from Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in North America.
BP Pipelines (Alaska) holds a 48.441 percent stake in the system, ConocoPhillips Transportation Alaska holds a 29.2086 percent stake, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company holds a 20.9943 percent stake and Unocal Pipeline Company holds a 1.3561 percent stake.