- An ecological disaster greater than the Exxon Valdez
oil spill 10 years ago could hit Alaska at any moment, according to senior
employees of the BP Amoco company.
- The six employees - who have not been named - have written
to BP Amoco's Chief Executive, Sir John Browne, warning that "irresponsible
operations" at a major oil pipeline are posing an imminent threat
to human life and the environment.
- But the man in charge of the pipe-line has rejected the
- "We're confident that the pipeline is safe,"
Bob Malone, President of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, told BBC News
- "We know of no situation that exists to make it
- The allegations - reported in London's Guardian newspaper
- centre on the 1280-km (800-mile) Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (Taps).
- The employees say they fear that the 22-year-old pipeline
- which carries one million barrels of oil a day - may rupture, or that
there might be an explosion at the Valdez oil tanker terminal.
- Both installations are run by Alyeska on behalf of BP
Amoco, a 50% shareholder. The other co-owners of Alyeska are Exxon and
- "It's not a matter of if it is going to happen,
it's when it is going to happen," says one Taps employee quoted by
- "It's more dangerous now than it ever was, because
Alyeska is being run by spin-doctors," says another.
- The letter reportedly contains allegations of
- falsified safety and inspection records intimidation
of workers and "persistent violations of procedures and government
- The employees say they fear a worse disaster than the
Exxon Valdez spill a decade ago, which caused terrible and long-lasting
environmental damage and cost billions of dollars to clean up.
- Mr Malone of Alyeska Pipeline said he was "disappointed
that these individuals don't feel comfortable raising these issues internally.
We have a variety of ways for someone to raise a concern in this company."
- "If there is an issue that someone knows about that
threatens the safety of the pipeline, we want and need to know about it,"
he told BBC News Online.
- "The safety of our people and the Alaska environment
are our first priorities," he said.
- Not the first allegations
- The Guardian allegations are a blow to Sir John Browne,
who has "spent two years re-positioning BP as the 'green' oil and
- In 1993, an American Congressional investigation into
the pipe-line followed the leak of complaints by so-called whistle-blowers.
- Six years later, the Guardian says, safety issues raised
by those "imminent threats" have been consistently disregarded.
- Alyeska's licence to operate the pipeline is currently
under government review.