The southwest Alaska community of Kwigillingok reported a sizable oil spill from its bulk fuel tank farm, which is about 500 feet from the Kwigillingok River.
The spill was discovered after the Kwik Inc. staff returned to work on Feb. 8. The diesel fuel came from a 10,000-gallon tank that overflowed. The spill was about 6,467 gallons at the latest estimate of oil that has escaped the secondary containment system. Oil was pilling at a rate of about 20 gallons a minute out of the transfer pump, which was shut off immediately upon the discovery of the spill. At this point, it appears that human error was the cause of the spill.
Kwik Inc., the village corporation, reported about 95 gallons have been recovered.
Fuel is brought into the villages before freeze-up in the fall and Kwik Inc. stores the fuel that heats the homes, school, and other buildings all winter, and powers the generators for the village’s electricity.
The Alaska Department of Environmenta lConservation, U.S. Coast Guard, and other state and federal agencies have been coordinating response efforts and staff from the agencies are on their way to Kwigillingok.
At this time, there are no reports of wildlife in the area, but this is an area that has numerous salmon streams. The spill area is frozen tundra and a small pond, but no discharge has occurred into the river. There’s very little snow on the tundra this winter.
Kwigillingok is located in a low-lying area on the Bering Sea and has been affected by coastal flooding in recent years.