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BP pays Alaska $1.7 million over spill protection violations

BP Exploration Inc. has paid $1.7 million to the state due to inadequate oil spill protection measures at Prudhoe Bay and other North Slope oil fields, state officials announced Tuesday.

BP and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation last month signed two compliance agreements to resolve violations of state regulations discovered during routine inspections in 2007, according to the DEC.

BP said Tuesday that it worked with DEC to find and fix the violations.

The initial inspections showed that at least three BP spill containment areas didn't meet the capacity requirements spelled out in state rules. As part of the settlement negotiations with DEC, BP surveyed all of its secondary containment areas and found 16 others that violated the capacity requirements, according to DEC.

The violations occurred at the Prudhoe Bay, Endicott and Badami oil fields — in truck loading areas and at oil field storage tanks. The tanks, for example, hold thousands of gallons of fuel, oily waste or snowmelt and their spill containment structures are berms that prevent tank leaks from spilling onto the tundra.

It's a "big deal" if the berms can't adequately contain a spill, said DEC program manager Betty Schorr.

BP officials agreed. "Proper secondary containment areas are important precautions," said Steve Rinehart, a BP spokesman.

The agency said BP has corrected most of the violations.

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