The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By TONY GORMAN
For the Star 

Alyeska celebrates fortieth anniversary of Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Past, present and future are bright for state's important and famous asset

 

August 2, 2017

Tony Gorman photo

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. hosted a celebration at the Valdez Civic Center last Thursday, recognizing its 40th anniversary.

It's been 40 years since men and women spent three blistery winters and blazing summers constructing one of Alaska's biggest assets.

Since then, 17 billion barrels of oil have traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez via TAPS, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company has seen everything since it was tasked with operating TAPS. Last week, those milestones and more were on display during its 40th Anniversary Celebration at the Valdez Civic Center.

Guests included Alyeska staff, city leaders, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council (PWSRCAC) staff and board members, and representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Attendees were treated to a documentary on the construction of TAPS. The film showed the conditions that workers had to endure while constructing the 800-mile pipeline. Afterwards, a four-person panel of Alyeska's past, present, and future discussed their time work with the company over the past 40 years.

The panel consisted of Marine Services Transitions Manager Mike Day, Valdez Terminal Director Scott Hicks, retired Alyeska Ballast Water Operations Supervisor Steve Goudreau, and Oil Spill Response Coordinator Kate Goudreau.

They fielded questions from Kate Dugan, the company's Community and Public Relations Manager, who moderated the discussion. Many of the questions dealt with changes over the past 40 years and how it was like working at Alyeska.

Day talked about how TAPS changed Valdez. He talked about memories of his dad having to drive pipe to Fairbanks, long lines at the bank on payday and going to school in modulars because TAPS brought more people to Valdez.

"I went to school in modulars most of my elementary life because the school went from not very many students to however many it was," Day said. "Then, watched those things progressed into new buildings to take care of a community and make it a good place to for people to live and a place to wanna live."

Hicks, who came to Valdez when he was 24 years-old, the focus on safety has changed over the years.

"It was difficult. It really was because there were a lot of people there working at start-up that were under the old construction mode. Just get the job done. Don't worry about it," Hicks said. "What they allow the workers now to go ahead and use the minds and not only the bodies with the minds. Let them think. Those are the people who are going to come up with better ideas to make stuff better, which is great."

Overall, the panel stressed the family atmosphere as the reason why Alyeska was fun to work. Steve Goudreau said that he takes pride that he and his children have worked with the company.

Tony Gorman photo

L-R, Kate Goudreau, Steve Goudreau, Scott Hicks, and Mike Day of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company talked about the system's past, present and future.

"I can honestly say that I love going to work every day and it was fun," Goudreau said. "I had more fun there. It wasn't fair. But, I've always said, if you can't have fun at what you're doing, you got to stop doing it. They saw that and realized Alyeska was a good company."

The youngest member on the panel, Kate Goudreau - Steve's daughter - thinks the biggest challenge for Alyeska will be maintaining its legacy.

"We have a legacy we kind of have to live up to," Goudreau said. "What do we want see in the next 40 years? It's just keeping up that legacy knowing where we're heading to, keeping up the engagement and getting the community involved."

Goudreau hopes that her daughter will carry-on the Alyeska legacy as she gets older and thrives in Valdez.

 

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