Valdez weathers the storm
It was a dark and stormy night...
It was 3 a.m. on Friday Sept. 21, and Area Operator Brian Falicon was keeping an eye on the Abercrombie Creek levy, about 4 miles upstream from the Valdez Marine Terminal. TAPS crews had been working on repairs to the area all week, but a record 4.3 inches of rain in a 24-hour period had caused area streams and creeks to overflow. Fast moving water was eroding the diversion embankment and threatening the PetroStar metering skid, which measures the crude oil taken off TAPS by the local refinery. Falicon saw conditions deteriorating, and made a call to his supervisor…
"Water, Water, Everywhere"
Valdez has been a rainy place this fall. The town is no desert and on average it receives nine inches in the month of September. But this year is different; one storm after another has dumped rain and blown winds through the Sound. By Sept. 17, over 12 inches had already fallen on the town and the forecast called for an additional nine inches or more. Earlier that night, thunder and lightning echoed in Port Valdez, halting tanker loading operations.
Despite the extreme rain, the rest of the Terminal was in good shape. Thanks to a tip from the local NOAA meteorologist and lessons learned after the major flood in 2006, crews had spent the week before ramping up, identifying possible problem areas – like Abercrombie Creek- and staging equipment and materials.
Teams from SERVS had set up pumps to clear water out of the crude oil storage tank dike cells. Operators driving vac trucks were making their way around to various sumps to keep them operational, and others were working to re-divert water back to the settlement ponds, and keep culverts clear of debris. At the heart of it all, the Ballast Water Treatment plant was chugging away, processing the run-off in addition to normal operations. Because the run-off didn’t contain any grease or oil, BWT was able to double their capacity to keep up with the storm.
“The response on Terminal embodied teamwork,” said Scott Hicks, VMT Director. “Everywhere, people were working together; the work reached across teams, and shifts and companies. Folks were sharing equipment and experience; there was quality communication and a strong commitment to doing the work safely.”
Back to Abercrombie Creek…
Thanks to Brian’s call, by 4:30 a.m. on Friday, Operations supervisor Bill Reiswig, and integrity management engineer Alex Lai were on site, and response teams from Houston Contractor Company and Ahtna were building up the levy an additional two feet. In 2006, the creek flooded and reached the skid- but not this year. Crews worked tirelessly at dawn and reinforced the levy with large rocks, dirt and gravel. The storm would eventually bring another 10 inches of rain to the area, but the retaining walls held.
“We never got into a critical situation because of everyone’s efforts,” said Reiswig. “There was a lot of good work done. It could’ve been worse, but we were ready.”
Alyeska cleans, inspects tanks on Valdez Marine Terminal
This summer, Alyeska performed scheduled tank cleaning and inspections on crude oil storage tanks 13 and 14 on the Valdez Marine Terminal. The storage tanks hold 510,000 barrels of oil and are over an acre in area. The inspections are thorough, looking at the tank from “head to toe;” everything is measured and reviewed from the roof thickness to the condition of the tank floor. The inspection is conducted by a variety of different means, including ultrasonic testing and visual inspections. The cleaning and inspections are supported by contracting partners Peak Oilfield Services, Team Peak, Dunkin and Bush, and Houston Contracting Company.
This photo was taken inside Tank 13. In the foreground are concrete roof supports- there are 61 in all- and beyond is the roof, which is over 60 feet above.
2012 TAPS Torch Run. Live United!
Pictured right: Alyeska's Betsy Haines, Director of Oil Movements and Olympic athlete, proudly holds the TAPS torch.
In honor of the Olympics, Alyeska’s United Way campaign theme is the 2012 TAPS Torch Run. The torch started at Pump Station 1 and each pledge made during the campaign moved the torch closer to Valdez. And the torch has arrived in Valdez, blazing a path across 800 miles of Alaska in less than a month.
TAPS employees and contractors have made $631,557 in pledges to United Way, surpassing the original campaign goal of $515,000. The final pledges will be compiled on Oct. 25.
“I am so proud to be associated with the TAPS workforce for making our communities a better place,” Alyeska President Tom Barrett said. “Our campaign is in early phases, yet it is already characterized by generous giving, increased outreach in Day of Caring activities, and great fund-raising efforts up and down the line.”
Thank you to our employees and contractors for making the pledge and for all the hard work and volunteer efforts.
Pump Station 6 straight pipe project
One of the major projects Alyeska undertook this summer was the Pump Station 6 straight pipe project. The Pump Station 6 manifold building was removed and the Mainline manifold piping connections and valves with the exception of CKV-60B have been eliminated. This is similar to the work completed at other ramp down stations Pump Station 2, Pump Station 8, Pump Station 11 and Pump Station 12.
These ‘Straight Pipe’ stations are not anticipated to be required for future operation of TAPS. By eliminating the non-essential elements of these pump stations, Mainline integrity is enhanced and maintenance resource requirements reduced. Furthermore, risks associated with dead legs and potential corrosion issues are mitigated. Pump station 10 is the next in line for a straight pipe project.
Alyeska surplus program sends needed suplies to communities
On July 25, a few Alyeska employees will wake up extra early to board the M/V Aurora, on its way to the Prince William Sound community of Tatitlek. They’re making the special trip to drop off an ambulance from Alyeska’s surplus program. The community hasn’t had a working ambulance in several years, and when a resident needs transport they have had to ride in personal vehicles not suited for the job.
Alyeska’s surplus program donates unneeded but functioning equipment to communities and qualified non-profits. Alyeska employee Lee DeWilde, originally from the village of Huslia, facilitated Alyeska’s donation of another ambulance to that village. He drove the surplus ambulance to Nenana, where it will be barged on the next available barge up the Koyokuk River — hopefully before freeze-up. Other surplus donations have benefited the Fairbanks Pipeline Training Center and the Rescue Mission’s Recycling Center.
“Getting a ambulance for our village will sure be better than trying to get someone to the airport or the ferry dock in the back of a pick-up truck,” said David Totemoff, Tatitlek IRA Village President.
Let the gold times roll!
In July every year, Fairbanks celebrates Golden Days, honoring the early pioneers who settled the Interior of Alaska. This year’s theme is “Let the Gold Times Roll!” and that’s exactly what happens with parties, concerts, a street party, and other festivities culminating in a grand parade with floats, bands, and of course politicians.
For the past several years, Alyeska has joined in the celebration by sponsoring Young Pioneers Day. Volunteers from Alyeska and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society serve free hot dogs, chips and drinks to the first 800 kids and caretakers. Free activities include arts and crafts, kids’ game a petting zoo, pony rides and face painting.
Thanks to Alyeska’s emphasis on safety, activities also include free eye exams for the kids, a Red Cross hypothermia activity and preparedness relay, and representatives from the Fairbanks Police Explorers and Volunteers in Policing.
“Alyeska Pipeline’s Young Pioneers Day is an event every youngster in our community looks forward to each year,” said Chamber Executive Director Lisa Herbert. “It is a great way for them to learn about the rich, golden history of Fairbanks. The community really comes together to put on a fantastic, fun-filled day for our future leaders. The Chamber, with support from investors such as Alyeska, is always looking at ways to continuously engage our youth, and Alyeska’s Young Pioneers Day does just that.”
Employee volunteerism: Lorena's story
Lorena Hegdal is the Director of Right of Way and Emergency Preparedness & Compliance. At Alyeska and in the Native community, Lorena has build up a reputation as someone who will support and counsel students, interns, potential job candidates and new hires. She recently discussed the importance of mentoring the younger generation.
I had the good fortune of being born and raised in Nome, Alaska, where my family spent the entire summer at our fish camp. I went to the University of Alaska and, after considering a career in teaching, I realized my patience level with kids was probably not conducive to being a good educator. So, I ventured into engineering because math came somewhat easy to me. I’ve been at Alyeska for over 12 years and every day is interesting, challenging and educational.
AISES is the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, which is a national group that was formed in 1977 to substantially increase American Indian and Alaska Native representation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields – as students, professionals, mentors, and leaders. ANSEP is an Alaskan home-grown program, engineered and developed by Dr. Herb (Ilisaurri) Schroeder, which began with a single student in 1995. The program has grown each year and expanded; annual student enrollments increase each year along with a commensurate increase in graduates.
Most importantly, numerous Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Native Hawaiians are graduating with well over 200 bachelor degrees earned since 2002 (several masters and a few PhD’s have also been awarded). The program has expanded beyond Alaska and also into the middle and high schools for college preparation.
Both programs are successful and work toward the same goal of ensuring and motivating students to succeed in the STEM fields, where some students have been told that they could not succeed.
In the early 1980s, I began hosting an annual fall picnic for AISES students at my home in Fairbanks. Students gather off campus and eat muktuk, grilled and smoked salmon, herring eggs, and other goodies donated by friends from across Alaska. Both AISES and ANSEP students attend the annual picnic and have the opportunity to visit in a home environment. I continue to provide financial support for the programs and also mentor students.
Both ANSEP and AISES students that have successfully completed college continue to support the programs through financial donations, mentorship, leadership, and camaraderie. The students that come from rural areas and reservations truly understand the issues and challenges and are more creative in finding engineering solutions in their communities.
It’s important to help these students because it’s just the right thing to do. Moving from a small town or village to the city can be overwhelming. Programs that reach into the middle and high schools provide exposure to the larger cities, campus life, and to STEM field graduates who are also Alaska Native.
Throughout my career and work with students, I’m the lucky one. I’ve had the opportunity to see students succeed, to encourage and mentor fellow Alaska Natives at work and watch them excel in their career growth.
Employee volunteerism: Cheryl’s story
Cheryl Graan is Alyeska’s Inventory Control/Logistics Supervisor, based in Fairbanks. Graan has a proven reputation for being a go-to volunteer both at work and in the Fairbanks community.
Describe some of the volunteer activities you’re involved with. I’ve been the Pipeline United Way Co-Chair the past few years so I’ve been pretty involved in coordinating those activities. We have an agreement that whoever organizes and leads a fundraising event gets to select the recipient organization. Hospice, Food Bank and the Literacy Council have been my chosen recipients over the years. They are all very worthwhile organizations for different reasons.
I typically volunteer my time for the United Way Day of Caring, support the Food Bank drives, and recruit some of my friends for the annual Spring Clean-Up Day activity. I keep telling myself I need to get more involved with Special Olympics, but so far have only managed to give them money instead of time.
Have you always volunteered a lot? Since I moved to Fairbanks, I have volunteered more of my time. I’m an empty nester, so I have more free time and it makes me feel a better connection to the community. I’ve always enjoyed helping people, which could explain part of the reason why I’ve always worked in support roles at Alyeska.
Why do you think it’s important to volunteer? I enjoy the good fortune that working on TAPS has provided me. Understanding some of the challenges others face makes me appreciate my good fortune that much more. I believe in giving back to the community I live in as a means to strengthen the community. The needs in all our communities are very real and it wouldn’t take too much to be in a situation where one needed services provided by one of the organizations nor does it take much to help provide a better life for someone. If I can help someone succeed just a little bit, that is huge.
Do you have a favorite memory? Before I moved to Fairbanks, my daughter and I volunteered for the Special Olympics Summer Games held in Anchorage. When we arrived we were each partnered up with an Olympian from Team Fairbanks. My Special Olympian was Liz French. She was a sweetheart and what made it so special for me was the fact that she and my sister Karen could have been twins. They looked the same, had the same hairstyle and body type, enjoyed many of the same things in life and they both had a very loving personality and smile that warmed your heart.
What’s a favorite volunteer activity? The annual United Way close-out dessert auction is probably one of the funniest events we have in Fairbanks. The frenzy of the bidding and the comments from the auctioneers to increase that frenzy have been great over the years. Another recent activity took place last year during the Thanksgiving holiday. The lunch room crowd from DIF (the Fairbanks office building) volunteered their time at the Food Bank over one of our lunch hours. We had an assembly line going to sort, bag and box potatoes and onions. We were a team on a mission and managed to make a big dent in the 2,000 bags that were packed that day.
Alyeska hits the road
Keep an eye out for hearty Alyeska volunteers today as they hit the road – Dayville Road. They’re spending the morning cleaning up the 5-mile road that winds its way from the Richardson Highway to the Valdez Marine Terminal. The road is a popular thoroughfare for tourists and locals alike who bike and walk along it to catch a glimpse of wildlife, or snag a salmon from shore. To keep the Dayville Road in top form, Alyeska volunteers spend three mornings a summer cleaning up trash on the side of the road.
Regardless of the rain, it’s great to take a little time to clean up the grass and sidewalks, said Rosie Tapp, an administrative assistant on Terminal. “We’re proud of this community and want it to look its best,” Tapp said. “It’s great to take a little time to clean up the grass and sidewalks, especially when it’s sunny out.”
Alyeska kicks off the age of asparagus
This summer marks the 12th year Alyeska has joined forces with the Tanana Valley State Fair to help stock the shelves at the Fairbanks Community Food Bank. Billed as Canned Food Day at the Fair, this annual event has brought in a grand total of 626,689 pounds of non-perishable food for the food bank. The 168th Air Refueling Wing along with their friends and family have traditionally collected the cans at the gate and delivered them to the Food Bank.
“Alyeska’s canned food day at the fair gives Interior residents a great opportunity to fill the shelves at the Food Bank and have fun at the same time,” said the fair’s executive director Randi Carnahan. “The long-standing partnership between these entities is really what this community is all about.”
“Alyeska's support of the Fairbanks Community Food Bank is legendary among our volunteers, board and staff,” said Food Bank Executive Director Samantha Kirstein. “Anytime we get into a challenging situation, we ask an Alyeska employee, and so often they are able to move heaven and earth to find a solution, whether it is a trailer for the fair booth, sponsorship of our largest food drive of the year at the fair, or a ton of potatoes at Christmastime. Our gratitude is heartfelt for the Alyeska friends who have stood beside us through decades of community work.”
What does this have to do with the Age of Asparagus? That’s the theme for this year’s fair, August 5-12. Four cans plus $2/adults or $1/child will get you into the fair, and will help make good things happen, as the Food Bank, the Tanana Valley Fair, and Alyeska like to remind the community.