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Drift River Oil Storage

Drift River Oil Terminal Location Map
Drift River Oil Terminal Location Map

What’s Happening: Hilcorp Oil and Gas Corporation wants to resume oil storage at the Drift River Oil Terminal, which lies at the base of an active volcano (Mt. Redoubt) on the west side of Cook Inlet.

Update September 2012: In August, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game issued permits to allow Hilcorp to mine boulders in the Redoubt Bay Critical Habitat Area and to fill and cross a salmon, so Hilcorp can reinforce the dikes at DROT.  ADFG's permit violates the law; see Inletkeeper's appeal letter here.

What you can do: Use the form on this page to tell Governor Parnell and the ADEC that storing oil at the base of an active volcano is a horrible idea, especially when it threatens Cook Inlet fishing families.

Formal Comment Deadline passed June 3, 2012; but never too late to tell the Governor we should not store oil at the base of an active volcano!

Photo: Linda Kozak.
Photo: Linda Kozak.
Talking Points:
Satellite view of the Drift River lahar and terminal.
Satellite view of the Drift River lahar and terminal.
Arial View of Drift River Terminal
Arial View of Drift River Terminal
Arial view of lahar flooding at Drift River (2009). Photo courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey.
Arial view of lahar flooding at Drift River (2009). Photo courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey.
Arial view of lahar flooding at Drift River (2009). Photo courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey.
Arial view of lahar flooding at Drift River (2009). Photo courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey.
Arial view of lahar over topping at Drift River (2009). Photo courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey.
Arial view of lahar over topping at Drift River (2009). Photo courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory / U.S. Geological Survey.

  • We dodged a bullet in 1989 at Drift River Terminal, and we dodged another one in 2009. It’s Russian roulette to continue storing oil at the base of an active volcano.

  • A pipeline across Cook Inlet is the smartest, safest and most efficient way to move oil from the Drift River terminal.

  • Alaska prides itself on “doing it right” and Governor Parnell and ADEC have frequently discussed Alaska’s “rigorous” permitting regime.  Allowing oil storage at the base of a volcano will highlight the shortcomings of Alaska’s permitting system.

  • Hilcorp already dumps over 2 billion gallons of toxic oil waste into Cook Inlet fisheries and beluga whale habitat each year. Elsewhere the industry reinjects its wastes.  Hilcorp is the third largest privately held oil and gas corporation in the U.S. and it should not maximize its profits on the back of Cook Inlet resources.


Background: Hilcorp Oil & Gas Corporation, through a subsidiary (Cook Inlet Pipeline Company) operates the Drift River Oil Terminal on the west side of Cook Inlet.  The Drift River Terminal collects oil from upstream production facilities, and ships it by tanker to refineries, usually the Tesoro refinery in Cook Inlet.  The Drift River Terminal also happens to sit at the base of an active volcano, Mt. Redoubt.  In 1989, volcanic flows threatened tanks holding tens of millions of gallons of oil at Drift River.  Industry responded by bolstering the diking system surrounding the facility.  In late 2008, Mt. Redoubt awoke.  Inletkeeper sounded the alarm when Chevron – which operated the terminal at the time – hid behind the Homeland Security Act and refused to disclose the volume of oil stored at the facility.  The ensuing eruption in March 2009 resulted in the greatest break-down in spill response capacity in Alaska since the Exxon Valdez.  Chevron evacuated the facility, so it could barely begin to implement its spill contingency plan. It also deliberately ignored the threat of a volcanic eruption when calculating its worst case spill scenario, so its spill contingency plan only planned for a 4 million gallon spill – leaving another 2 million gallons in the spill response ether.  But the fact remains, the technology does not exist to respond to a volcano-induced spill, and the most prudent action – for Cook Inlet fisheries and the families who rely on them - is to avoid storing oil at the base of an active volcano.

Additional Information:

  • The public notice for Hilcorp’s C-Plan is here
  • The Drift River Spill Contingency Plan (C-Plan) is here.
  • Cook Inletkeeper produced a comprehensive timeline of events, with commentary, in response to the 2009 Drift River Terminal Incident. Find it here.
  • Cook Inletkeeper's letter debunking the white-washed post-incident report produced by the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council.  Find it here.
  • See more photos here.
Your letter will be sent to the following people:
  • Larry Dietrick (ADEC)
  • Governor Sean Parnell
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