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Port of Alaska remained open with minimal impact to normal shipping and operation schedules after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Port users reported no injuries, leaks, spills or significant structural failures after the earthquake. Ship traffic after the earthquake has maintained normal schedules. The tanker Pacific Beryl was at dock and discharging fuel when the earthquake struck and immediately suspended pumping operations. Pacific Beryl remained at dock an extra day after the earthquake while inspectors pressure-tested fuel lines for leaks. Pacific Beryl completed pumping operations and departed after shore-side fuel infrastructure was inspected and declared safe for operations.
The general cargo docks and trestles have all been inspected and are safe for regular shipping operations. The earthquake damaged several dock lights and overhead power lines that have since been repaired. All major port infrastructure has been inspected and declared safe for normal operation, and U.S. Corps of Engineers surveys show that Upper Cook Inlet shipping channels and Port of Alaska berths will support normal shipping operations.
Port of Alaska officials have temporarily repaired a minor earthquake-related land failure and are tracking minor land failures at the edges of cargo yards and on the port’s north extension. These land failures are mostly in low-traffic areas and are not expected to significantly impact port operations.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan toured Port of Alaska on Dec. 3, 2018 and said that they will seek federal funds to help repair port damage and improve facility resiliency to prepare for future events.
Port of Alaska director Steve Ribuffo said, “Port of Alaska’s resiliency through this earthquake demonstrates the value of adhering to stringent engineering and maintenance schedules and standards. Unfortunately, good maintenance slows but can’t stop corrosion, and this level of performance is not sustainable for even a few more years.”
Port of Alaska’s modernization project aims to replace Port of Alaska’s half-century-old docks and related infrastructure, and will support more-efficient shipping operations that stand up to Upper Cook Inlet’s extreme marine environment and seismic conditions.
Port and Municipal officials plan to replace aging docks and related infrastructure to:
- Improve operational safety and efﬁciency
- Accommodate modern shipping operations
- Improve resiliency . . . to survive extreme seismic events and local marine environment for at least 75 years
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Port of Alaska is Alaska’s premier inbound cargo port that handles more than 3.5 million tons of fuel and freight annually. About half of all Alaska inbound marine cargo crosses the port’s docks . . . that leverage hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private infrastructure, including more than 125 acres of cargo handling yard, 3.4 million barrels of fuel storage, 60,000 tons of cement storage . . . and marine, road, rail, air and pipeline connections to all of Alaska.
The Port is located in tsunami-proof Upper Cook Inlet, adjacent to Alaska’s population center and primary business and transportation hubs. It is U.S. Department of Commerce Foreign Trade Zone No. 160 that provides tariff benefits that improve federal, state and local business competitiveness. It is also one of 17 (including Guam) Department of Defense-designated “U.S. commercial strategic seaports” nationwide.
Port of Alaska serves deep-water vessels that operate year round to transport cargo faster, cheaper and more reliably than any other means. It is a critical piece of economic and national defense infrastructure that helps keep our nation strong . . . and Alaska produce fresh.