Internal report questions Alyeska move

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2010

FAIRBANKS - An Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. internal report questioned a decision to shift personnel from Fairbanks to Anchorage and its effect on pipeline safety three months before the move was made.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported the Integrity Management analysis, written in November, stated "there are significant safety and integrity risks" attached to relocating personnel.

Alyeska announced in February it had decided to relocate 29 of its Fairbanks-based employees anyway, saying the shift was considered prudent when all factors were considered.

"The company took a broader view about whether those employees should be located in Anchorage," according to Alyeska spokeswoman Michelle Egan.

She said a more thorough analysis determined the move of the accounting, engineering and Health Safety and Environmental Quality workers would help control costs without sacrificing pipeline safety.

Alyeska's role in maintaining the trans-Alaska pipeline has come under greater scrutiny in recent months, following several spills and a congressional review of its procedures.

Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, a vocal critic of the personnel move, told the Fairbanks newspaper the IM report is more evidence that it was a bad idea. Guttenberg was invited to speak at a U.S. House hearing on pipeline safety in July, and told a Transportation subcommittee that Alyeska made a decision to shift workers to Anchorage without addressing the effect it would have on pipeline safety.

"Their own documents have shown they shouldn't have done this, and they continue to do it," Guttenberg said.

Egan declined to release any documents supporting the move, saying they are for internal Alyeska use only.

The IM report, obtained by the News-Miner, concluded that Fairbanks is a better location for the personnel from the standpoint of business efficiency, regulatory compliance and pipeline safety and integrity.

The report also outlined some examples of Interior-based employees helping to reduce response time to incidents such as a pump station fire, a leak from a rifle shot, flooding damage, and a failed cleaning attempt that plugged the pipeline.

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