Scientists at the University of Alaska (UAS) have discovered significant levels of benzene and other organic solvents in snowpacks around Valdez Alaska. The town is located at the end of the trans-Alaska pipeline and is where tankers are loaded with crude oil.
The researchers took snow cores from around Valdez and compared them to samples from Juneau, an area with a similar climate but lacking petroleum transport infrastructure.
"Our research suggests a source of pollutants in Valdez that is not found at Juneau one possibility is the trans-Alaska pipeline."- UAS scientist Jonathan Bower to environmentalresearchweb.
The source of the benzene contamination has not been determined but researchers suggested the Ballast Water Treatment Facility may be to blame. The facility treats ballast water from the holds of tankers, and vents fumes directly into the atmosphere. UAS scientist Jonathan Bower suggested measures should be taken to recover the fumes in order to reduce pollution.
It is fortunate for those living in Valdez that this health risk has been identified. Hopefully locals will push for a solution that involves eliminating the source of the pollution and cleaning up the mess as much as possible.
Unfortunately those living and working in and around the oil and gas industry are at increased risk of benzene exposure. Prolonged exposure to benzene is known to cause serious health problems such as aplastic anemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes. Anyone who’s health has been wrongfully damaged by benzene has a right to seek compensation for their injuries and should speak discuss their situation with a qualified benzene attorney.