Alaskan oil tanker loadings resume after scare closes terminal

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Sept. 12 -- Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. said fears of a potential terrorist attack prompted the closure of its Valdez terminal for 13 hr Tuesday.

Alyeska said at mid-day Tuesday "Military officials considered a Korean Airlines plane inbound to Anchorage a threat to the terminal and the Coast Guard requested that Alyeska evacuate the terminal." It said military jets escorted that airliner to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

The Alyeska terminal had three tankers in port at the time. One departed on schedule and two tankers finished loading and sailed. The Coast Guard ordered three inbound tankers to remain out of the port. Only essential personnel remained at the Valdez terminal Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Alyeska said the terminal resumed normal operations Wednesday and was loading two tankers. It said the terminal and the trans-Alaska pipeline (TAPS) remained "in a heightened state of security and preparedness" on Wednesday.

TAPS operations were not affected by the incident. But a spokesman said the nationwide ban on domestic flights has disrupted pipeline crew shift changes.

Dan Hisey, Alyeska chief operating officer, said, "I want to stress how impressed I am with the tremendous professionalism demonstrated by the military, the FBI, and the Coast Guard. Together we've made decisions based on the best available information and thanks to this cooperation, TAPS has remained safety in operation."

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