Wednesday, November 20, 2019

How the Trans Alaska Pipeline Affected the Lives of the Alaskan Essay

How the Trans Alaska Pipeline Affected the Lives of the Alaskan Nativesand the company itself - Essay Example The single 48-inch (1.22 m) diameter pipeline was built between March 27, 1975 and May 31, 1977 at a cost of around US$8 billion. Five different contractors employing 21,000 people at the peak of work constructed the pipe in six sections; 31 were killed in accidents during construction (Trans Alaska Pipeline). during the course of the project (qtd. from Cowans). The obstacles faced and overcome in building the trans-Alaska pipeline are simply astounding. The harsh temperatures, rough terrain, lack of Arctic pipeline building knowledge at this time and the environmental concerns of a pipeline had to all be considered in making this project a success. In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Alaska pipeline one of the "Seven Wonders of the United States". Their list includes the Panama Canal, Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, the Kennedy Space Center, the Interstate Highway System, and the World Trade Center (qtd. from Cowans). Along the pipeline, there are eleven pump stations, each with four pumps. Diesel or natural gas generators power each electric pump. Twelve pump stations were planned but Pump Station 11 was never built, though the southward numbering system for the pump stations retains a place for this nonexistent station. Usually only around seven stations are active at one time, and plans to replace the existing pumps with newer high-efficiency pumps may reduce the number of active stations even further (qtd. from Trans Alaska Pipeline). In areas where thaw-sensitive permafrost exists but the line must be buried, such as highway crossings or avalanche-prone areas, the pipe is encased in an insulated, refrigerated ditch. Nearby refrigeration, plants pump cold brine through 6-inch (15 cm) pipes, which absorb heat and keep the soil cooled. Other areas of burial are either conventional covered ditches or unrefrigerated but insulated ditches, depending on the sensitivity of the surrounding soil (qtd. from Trans Alaska Pipeline). The pipeline was completed on June 20, 1977 and the first oil was pumped into the pipeline. On July 8, 1977, a huge explosion destroyed Pump Station Eight. The explosion killed one worker and injured five more. Human error was attributed to the cause of the explosion. On July 19, 1977, a loader damaged a valve just south of Prudhoe Bay. Approximately 2,000 barrels of oil spilled onto the ground before the leak was stopped and repaired. On the next day, the first attempt of sabotage occurred. A section of insulation from the pipeline was torn off and supporting pipe brackets were torn from the line just north of Fairbanks. The pipeline itself was not injured and the oil continued to flow south towards Valdez. Several people were later arrested and convicted for malicious destruction of property (qtd.

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