CNN takes a look at the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, an 800-mile oil transport tube measuring four feet in diameter with 11 pump stations along the route, which carries approximately 650,000 barrels of oil a day across otherwise untouched Alaskan wilderness. The pipeline is managed by Alyeska -- a company that BP owns 46% of.
Although the pipeline was an extraordinary engineering feat when built over 30 years ago, its age is now seen as an extreme risk considering allegations that BP is sacrificing maintenance and safety of the pipeline to save money.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Michigan) says there is already clear evidence of the pipeline's poor management, with numerous small incidents piling up over the previous six months. Additionally, Alyeska has been charged 8 times by federal regulators for safety, maintenance, and procedural violations since 2004. The company has contested all of the charges, refusing to pay $1 million in fines.
In May, 5,000 barrels of oil overflowed out of pump station #9 when the power and its backup failed. The station was formerly manned by employees, but they were replaced with automatic equipment to cut costs.
Many fear that if the profit-driven motives aren't changed, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline could be at risk to become the next tragic environmental disaster.