Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

15,000 Gallon Oil Spill Threatens River and Drinking Water in Native Alaskan Village

Energy
15,000 Gallon Oil Spill Threatens River and Drinking Water in Native Alaskan Village
The Kobuk River in Alaska on Aug. 30, 2011. 16Terezka / CC BY-SA 3.0

Around 15,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled in a Native Alaskan village Saturday, threatening a nearby river and the local drinking water supply.


The spill occurred during a routine fuel delivery to the Northwest Arctic village of Shungnak. The fuel spilled around 12:30 p.m. June 20, but was not discovered by the villagers until 1:06 p.m. They reported it to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) immediately thereafter, The Arctic Sounder reported.

"A response crew from Shungnak responded to the spill immediately, removing the spilled heating oil using sorbent material and also by pumping it into containers," ADEC said in a situation report.

There have been no injuries reported and the oil spill has not harmed any wildlife so far. However, there are concerns that it could spread to sensitive areas.

"The extent of contamination has been reported by the incident commander to be approximately 160 feet from the Kobuk River and approximately 295 feet from the Shungnak drinking water source," ADEC said.

The spill occurred when fuel intended for the Shungnak Native Store was delivered to the school instead, KTUU reported. This caused fuel tank #1 to overflow. The fuel was being transferred from a barge on the Kobuk River. All transfers have now been stopped.

The cleanup efforts have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Alaska Public Radio reported. Because of travel restrictions, officials from ADEC and the Environmental Protection Agency cannot travel to the spill site. Instead, both agencies are in contact with local responders.

"ADEC will continue to monitor the response actions and review plans being developed to clean up contaminated soils from the area and prevent heating oil migration to nearby resources," ADEC said, according to The Arctic Sounder.

The Kobuk River flows for 380 miles from the Endicott Mountains to Kotzebue Sound, according to the National Park Service. It is one of the only two spawning grounds for the Kobuk/Selawik population of sheefish and also an important habitat for grayling, arctic char, whitefish, chum salmon and lake trout. It is also a subsistence fishing site for Native Alaskan communities and the wintering grounds for the Western Arctic caribou herd.

Purdue researcher Joseph Peoples uses an infrared camera to compare the cooling performance of white paint samples on a rooftop. Purdue University photo / Jared Pike

By Kayla Wiles

What if paint could cool off a building enough to not need air conditioning?

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tropical Storm Zeta could be the fifth storm to hit Louisiana this season. National Hurricane Center

The extremely active 2020 hurricane season has another storm in store for the beleaguered Gulf Coast.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Plain Naturals offers a wide variety of CBD products including oils, creams and gummies.

Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.

Read More Show Less
The Trump administration has weakened fuel-efficiency requirements for the nation's cars and trucks. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

As the days tick down to next month's presidential election, debate rages over the U.S. government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic with critics of President Donald Trump calling for his ouster due to his failure to protect the American public.

Read More Show Less
Researchers have discovered a link between air pollution, food delivery and plastic waste. Sorapop / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered a link between air pollution, food delivery and plastic waste.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch