Regulators Demand Repair of Leaking Alaska Gas Pipeline, Cite Hazard

"The Hilcorp-owned pipeline has been leaking more than 200,000 cubic feet of gas a day into the Cook Inlet, home of endangered beluga whales, since late December."

"Federal regulators have given oil and gas operator Hilcorp until May 1 to permanently repair a pipeline spewing more than 200,000 cubic feet of gas a day into Alaska's Cook Inlet or shut it down, citing public safety and environmental risks. The line has been leaking since late December, the regulator disclosed, longer than reported by the company.

The directive by the U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) requires Hilcorp to submit a repair plan and do a comprehensive safety inspection of the line. The proposed safety order, issued March 3, adds to mounting pressure on Hilcorp to fix a rupture some fear could lead to severe environmental damage. Cook Inlet is home to endangered beluga whales and other protected species.

"PHMSA finds that the continued operation of the Affected Pipeline Facility, without corrective measures, poses a pipeline integrity risk to public safety, property, and the environment," the letter said, explaining that "the leak could get worse and potentially fail.""

Sabrina Shankman reports for InsideClimate News March 8, 2017.

Source: InsideClimate News, 03/09/2017