State agencies are recommending no subsistence activities in fuel-contaminated areas around the village of Scammon Bay until breakup is complete. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Health and Social Services have issued a community advisory and posted fact sheets around the town with this information.
The contaminated areas are important subsistence grounds for the village. Residents harvest fish, gather bird eggs, hunt migratory birds, and hunt marine mammals in the wetlands and waterways. All this, as the open water of breakup is beginning to encourage subsistence activities as the birds arrive.
Last month, 7,000 gallons of gasoline spilled from the Askinuk Village Corporation tank farm. Some amount of that escaped the lined containment dike surrounding the tank farm and flowed into the nearby creek and then into the Kun River. The escape likely occurred when the Corporation pumped water out of the containment area. However, more gasoline is expected to remain inside.
The Askinuk Corporation is acquiring equipment to clean the water that will have to be pumped out of the area once the snow and ice have melted.