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Methanol and crude spill from Prudhoe Bay pipeline

Associated Press - October 16, 2007 3:44 PM ET

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - State environmental officials on Tuesday reported a toxic spill of methanol at the Prudhoe Bay oil field managed by BP PLC.

Nearly 2,000 gallons of mostly methanol, mixed with some crude oil and water, spilled onto a frozen tundra pond and a gravel pad from a pipeline.

That's according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The spill occurred on Monday.

Methanol, which is poisonous to plants and animals, is used to clear ice from the insides of the Arctic-based pipelines.

Ed Meggert an agency official in Fairbanks, says two officials from the department are investigating the cause of the spill and will make recommendations for clean-up.

The spill came from a five-mile pipeline that carries oil along with the water and gas that wells up with it from underground reservoirs at the nation's largest oil field.

BP spokesman Steve Rinehart says the pipe had been emptied and cleaned for inspection and repairs several weeks ago.

He says the company is doing its own investigation into the cause of the spill.

No one was hurt, Rinehart says, and the London-based company has notified the requisite state and federal agencies.

BP is undergoing a massive restructuring following several high-profile setbacks.

In the past few years, the company has been hit by a deadly Texas refinery accident, oil spills at Prudhoe Bay and delays at its Gulf of Mexico oil and gas projects.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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