Hilcorp, a company having a pipeline that is still leaking gas, now has another pipeline spilling oil into the home of the endangered beluga whales.
The eight-inch pipeline runs 75 feet underwater and connects two oil production platforms in the Cook Inlet. Having been under 10,000 gallons the United States National Guard considers the spill “minor.” Hilcorp states they quickly deactivated both the oil production platforms to try and minimize damage.
“We’re really worried about what this means for Cook Inlet belugas with the double whammy of an oil spill and gas leak in the same season,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity .
In 1999 the Cook Inlet beluga whale was first proposed to be protected and not more than 9 years later, in 2008 was considered endangered. The population of the beluga now stands at 340 whales.
Installed in 1966, these Oil production platforms have an aged infrastructure and harsh tides in the Crook Inlet make them even more vulnerable to incidents. But the cause of the leak is unknown and oil sheens have been reported in the area.
Since Hilcorp entered the Alaskan oil market in 2011 they have been clashing with Alaskan government. In 2016 the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission repeatedly cited Hilcorp for violating safety regulations for its oil and gas operations.
“It’s clear that there’s no safe way to drill for oil in the ocean. This is the same company that plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean, a place that is much more dangerous for oil drilling with severe storms and ice,” Sakashita said. “Hilcorp keeps springing leaks in Cook Inlet and it should certainly not be allowed to build the Liberty project in the Beaufort Sea.”
A 60-day notice has been sent to Hilcorp by The Center for Biological Diversity of intent to sue for the ongoing gas leak and now new oil leak to determine whether legal action is warranted.