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FAIRBANKS - The company that operates the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline has notified 29 Fairbanks employees that their jobs will be shifted to Anchorage.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. spokeswoman Lynda Sather said the shift is part of an ongoing effort to control costs by centralizing work in Alaska's largest city. The company expects to save $3 million by reducing its real estate needs in Fairbanks and Valdez while consolidating its work force.
Sather says the timing of the job transfer has not been determined. Most of the affected employees were told about the transfer plans last week.
"This is not an effort to reduce the work force; it's an effort to relocate the work force," she said.
The plan has been the target of criticism by state Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks. He contends that shifting employees 350 miles south will weaken Alyeska's ability to react to pipeline spills.
"If they can't respond to something - and they all expect something to happen, whether it's an earthquake or a drunk with a rifle - that's really significant," Guttenberg said.
Sather said the change will not affect emergency readiness. She classified the positions as "office workers" and said the number of employees who respond to pipeline emergencies will be unchanged in Fairbanks and at various pump stations.
"It absolutely will not affect personnel safety, environmental safety or the integrity of (the pipeline system)," she said.
Sather said there are no plans to move additional Fairbanks jobs to Anchorage.