Can the Port of Alaska withstand an earthquake? Probably not

Published: Oct. 11, 2018 at 4:45 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The Port of Alaska handles more than 3.5 million tons of food, building supplies, just about everything that comes into the state. It is also designated as a strategic seaport for the Department of Defense.

But, it is old and rusted and expected to be unusable in the next 10 years.

If something were to happen to it, it would also be devastating. It would take less than a week to see the shelves at supermarkets empty out.

On a recent port tour, a spokesperson for the port pointed out rust and holes within the structures of the port.

"You don't have to be an engineer to look at it and go, 'Ha, I don't think it's supposed to do that.' " Jim Jager, the Port External Affairs Director said.

The Port of Alaska is also the only port to have survived the earthquake of 1964. Its strategic location makes it nearly impossible to be affected by a tsunami. But, it is vulnerable to the effects of an earthquake. The recent port expansion needs to be torn down, or it risks hitting the current port.

To maintain the port and enable it to limp along, in 2003 the port started putting jackets on the pilings to expand their usefulness, about 800 have been done out of more than 1,400.