76 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
Figure 6.1 A section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that is elevated to prevent permafrost
Courtesy U.S.Army Corps of Engineers.
TAPS is fed by several North Slope fields, including the Prudhoe Bay
Oil Field. Prudhoe accounts for one-fourth of total domestic U.S. produc-
tion and, through 1996, about one-eighth of U.S. consumption. The Valdez
terminal contains 18 holding tanks, each of which holds about 0.5 million
barrels of crude oil. Smaller storage facilities at Valdez add another 0.2
million barrel capacity. The average flow from the North Slope drilling
sites for many years was 1.8 million barrels per day, or more than 650 mil-
lion barrels per year. The Valdez shipping lanes through Prince William
Sound are shown in Figure 6.2.
Alaska is very dependent on TAPS. Between 1969 and 1987, Alaskan
state taxes amounted to $1.5 billion per year; federal taxes amounted to $2
billion per year. During this same period, Alyeska made about $2.4 billion
per year in profit. Every year, each Alaska resident receives a TAPS divi-
dend check of between $800 and $1000. This conflict of interest may
explain why Alaskans allowed Alyeska to let construction and operations
requirements, which were conditions of congressional TAPS approval,
lapse. Even though the traditional Valdez industry is fishing, with more
successful fishermen able to bring in annual incomes of six figures,Alyeska
was allowed to extensively pollute Valdez waters.
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