No environmental impact from 22,000-gallon heating oil spill in Savoonga

Several tanks stand in pools of heating oil that spilled during a tank transfer at the Savoonga Native Store in Savoonga. (Photo courtesy Savoonga Native Store)

Alaska’s spill response division is reporting a 22,000 gallon heating oil spill in a village on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea.

The Savoonga Native Store reported the spill on Wednesday morning. According to an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation report, the spill happened while someone was transferring fuel from one storage tank to another.

Tom DeRuyter works for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

He said no one from DEC has made it out to the site yet, but the spill reportedly happened inside of a lined container, surrounded by a chain-link fence and barbed wire.

“So the environmental impacts to this are nonexistent at this point, we’re very fortunate it’s in secondary containment,” DeRuyter said.

DeRuyter said cleanup efforts are relatively simple, but will be hampered by deep snow drifts in and around the area. At this point, he said, the state’s biggest concern is worker safety during cleanup as the heating oil is toxic.

He said the state has an inspector on the way who should be in the community by Friday.

Rashah McChesney is a photojournalist turned radio journalist who has been telling stories in Alaska since 2012. Before joining Alaska's Energy Desk , she worked at Kenai's Peninsula Clarion and the Juneau bureau of the Associated Press. She is a graduate of Iowa State University's Greenlee Journalism School and has worked in public television, newspapers and now radio, all in the quest to become the Swiss Army knife of storytellers.

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