A panel of national scientific experts is raising serious concerns about the state-led, $5 million project to evaluate risks posed by Alaska's aging oil and gas infrastructure.
The study, initiated by former Gov. Sarah Palin, was triggered by recent spills, leaks and corrosion on the North Slope, including the 2006 spill that shut down half of Prudhoe Bay for weeks and resulted in multimillion-dollar penalties for BP, the Prudhoe operator.
But the National Academy of Sciences said in a 45-page report circulated Tuesday that the state's study — as currently designed — is unlikely to meet its own ambitious goals.
The study, funded by the Legislature in 2007, involves reviewing and ranking oil and gas-related risks along the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline, at the Valdez tanker port and at North Slope and Cook Inlet fields.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation launched the study last fall and spent a year gathering public input. It hired contractors to design the study, based on that input.
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