15,000-gallon heating oil spill reported in Kobuk River village of Shungnak

The Native Village of Shungnak (Photo courtesy of Northwest Arctic Borough)

State officials are monitoring a roughly 15,000-gallon heating oil spill in the Northwest Arctic village of Shungnak, according to the state Department of Environment and Conservation. 

The Native Village of Shungnak reported the spill at around 1 p.m., Saturday. Officials say a fuel tank for the school in Shungnak was overfilled during a delivery from a barge. The fuel was intended for the local Native store and the Alaska Village Electric Co-op tanks. 

A Shungnak response team cleaned up the spilled oil and began pumping it into containers. An excavator was dispatched to the area to remove contaminated soil. 

DEC officials say one potential area of risk is the Kobuk River, which is about 160 feet away from the extent of the spill. They also listed Shungnak’s drinking water source as another risk area; it’s about 295 feet away. 

DEC and Environmental Protection Agency officials are in contact with the local response team. COVID-19 travel restrictions have prevented officials from either agency from heading to the spill site.

Wesley Early is a reporter with Alaska Public Media, covering municipal politics and Anchorage life.

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