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The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. yesterday restored service on the trans-Alaska pipeline four days after it was punctured by gunfire.
The pipeline leaked more than 285,000 gallons of crude oil since it was damaged last Thursday. It was secured with a temporary hydraulic clamp, said Bill Howitt, vice president of Fairbanks, Alaska-based Alyeska. The pipeline company said the cleanup would likely cost millions and take years to complete.
"We anticipate it will take literally years to get the area free of contamination," Howitt said.
Daniel Carson Lewis, 37, has been detained by local police for allegedly firing a .38-caliber rifle at a portion of the pipeline 70 miles north of Fairbanks. Lewis, who was described as "heavily intoxicated" at the time of the shooting, has been charged with felony assault, weapons misconduct, criminal mischief and driving while intoxicated. His bail was set at $1.5 million.
Although tanker loading continued at the Valdez Marine Terminal using storage tanks, the pipeline -- which carries 1 million barrels of oil per day, or 17 percent of domestic production -- was temporarily shut down. Oil companies on the North Slope were asked to reduce their production by 95 percent as a result.