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10 Summary of Impacts - Proposed Action, Spills

Impacts to the Physical Environment and Biological Resources

The projected impacts to the physical environment and biological resources from oil spills would vary depending on the amount of material spilled and the location of the spill. Spills could contaminate soil, surface water, and groundwater and affect biological resources associated with these media. For the most part, spills that could be anticipated or likely to occur would be small and affect only small areas within the existing TAPS ROW or facility areas.

Impacts From Oil Spills to Land

The largest potential catastrophic spill to land (resulting from a hypothetical guillotine break in the pipeline) would affect less than 100 acres. If such a spill occurred at one of the rivers crossed by the TAPS, a considerable length of the river downstream and possibly upstream could be affected.

A large oil spill on land would be expected to have localized effects on geological media, vegetative communities, and bird and mammal populations. However, these effects would not affect regional vegetation patterns or animal populations. Such a spill could have localized effects on fish populations in adjacent water bodies.

Impacts From Oil Spills to Water

A large spill to water (either at one of the rivers crossed by the TAPS or at Port Valdez) could have more widespread effects. River banks and beds could be coated with oil, requiring long-term cleanup efforts. A large spill to Port Valdez could affect shoreline vegetation, fish communities, and a number of listed and protected species (a variety of marine mammals) that occur in Port Valdez.

Impacts From Oil Spills on Human Health

The impacts to human health and safety from oil spills would be minor, provided appropriate measures were taken.

Economic Impacts

The most significant state-wide economic impact of an oil spill would be the loss of oil revenues during the period when the pipeline was shut down for repair and cleanup. At the local level, spills would directly affect property taxes and would indirectly affect transfers made to local governments from revenues collected by the state. Depending on its location and magnitude, a spill could also impact recreation and tourism and subsistence resources.

For More Information

More information about the impacts from spills under the proposed action is available in the FEIS Volume 3, Section 4.4, Spills Analysis for Proposed Action.

PDF icon Section 4.4 (967 KB, 146 pgs.)

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