340 barrels of jet fuel spills into secondary containment area at the Port of Anchorage

Published: Nov. 19, 2017 at 5:44 PM AKST
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Editor's Note: This story has been updated to replace references to "Tesoro" with "Andeavor," which is the new name of the company.

An estimated 340 barrels of jet fuel spilled into a secondary containment area late Saturday at the ocean dock at the Port of Anchorage.

The containment system is believed to prevent a far worse scenario: the 18,000-plus gallons of fuel spilling into icy Cook Inlet, where a cleanup would have been far more difficult if not impossible.

With the system in place, already, fifteen thousand gallons of oil and water mixture has been recovered.

Candice Barber, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, says the terminal is located "approximately 560 feet from the waters of Cook Inlet."

Barber describes that the incident occurred Saturday evening when Ocean Dock Petroleum Terminal Tank 1001 was receiving fuel from the tanker Island Express. Personnel saw fuel spilling from the tank rim vent.

Andeavor personnel "immediately notified the tanker crew to shut down the transfer operation. (The company) notified the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) at 10:18 p.m. and the National Response Center at 10:27 p.m. on the same day," writes Barber.

The transferring operation was immediately shut down, and Barber says that personnel transferred fuel to another tank to bring the level down in Tank 1001. The type of fuel has been identified as JP-4 jet fuel. The cause of the spill has been put down to a faulty "tank level sending unit" that was giving incorrect data about the tank's actual level.

Barber says "(The company) activated a spill response contractor to recover free product from the secondary containment area. The free product recovery operation was carried out throughout the night."

As of noon Sunday, approximately 15,000 gallons of oil and water mixture have been recovered, writes Barber.

One factor that helped was snowfall that coincided with the spill, said Jeff Merrell, who manages the DEC Central Region.

"There was not a significant amount of other material in the container itself," Merrell said. "What was in there was a bit of accumulated ice and snow. As you may recall, it was snowing Saturday night and Sunday morning when this event occurred. Luckily for us, snow is an excellent absorber or oil products. It actually helped."

Channel 2's Austin Baird contributed to this report.