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Environment

Environmental stories that take place in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

The Napakiak School fuel storage facility sits 76 feet from the riverbank’s erosion point along the Kuskokwim River on Aug. 16, 2019. The fuel storage facility, owned by the Lower Kuskokwim School District, contains an estimated 36,000 gallons of diesel f
U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is watching the situation developing with threatened fuel tanks at Napakiak. The U.S. Coast Guard ordered the Lower Kuskokwim School District to move the school’s estimated 36,000 gallons of diesel fuel away from the eroding Kuskokwim riverbank by the end of the month. DEC will determine if more action is needed to treat the site.

People ride on a four wheeler in front of the Napakiak school fuel tanks, which sit less than 50 feet from the Kuskokwim River following accelerating erosion. Pictured here on August 8, 2019.
Katie Basile / KYUK

The U.S. Coast Guard has given the Lower Kuskokwim School District until the end of the month to remove the diesel fuel from its Napakiak school fuel tanks. The tanks hold about 36,000 gallons of fuel and are sitting less than 100 feet from the eroding Kuskokwim River bank. Both the Coast Guard and LKSD are confident that the school district can meet the deadline.


The Napakiak School fuel storage facility sits 76 feet from the riverbank’s erosion point along the Kuskokwim River on Aug. 16, 2019. The fuel storage facility, owned by the Lower Kuskokwim School District, contains an estimated 36,000 gallons of diesel f
U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage

The Lower Kuskokwim School District has two weeks to remove the diesel fuel from the Napakiak school fuel tanks to prevent an environmental disaster. The U.S. Coast Guard issued an administrative order to the school district on Friday, giving them until August 30 to complete the job. 

Children walk through puddles in Napakiak, Alaska on August 4, 2019 as rain drenched Western Alaska
Andrew West

It’s called an “atmospheric river," which is what it sounds like: a channel of very moist air coursing across the globe. And it’s what’s been drenching the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, but a dry patch is now in sight.


Side-by-side photos, taken from the same location, show the amount of riverbank lost in Napakiak over the past three years, comparing August 2016 to August 4, 2019 following a heavy storm.
Andrew West

This weekend’s storms tore more land away from Napakiak’s already heavily eroded riverbank. About 8 feet of bank fell into the Kuskokwim River, adding to the more than 100 feet of shoreline that has already been lost this year.


Katie Basile / KYUK

Newtok is the nation’s first community to relocate due to climate change, and the military is lending a hand. U.S. troops are working side by side with Newtok residents to build new homes. 


Courtesy of Alaska National Weather Service Facebook

Weekend storms battered the coast of Western Alaska. While they damaged some villages, others fared much better.  

Scientists suspect heat stress killed a large number of summer chum salmon migrating through the Koyukuk River, a tributary of the Yukon. The carcasses held underdeveloped eggs and sperm, indicating that the salmon were far from their spawning grounds,  w
Stephanie Quinn-Davidson / Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

Salmon have been found dead in rivers across Western Alaska this summer. The largest die-off reported comes from the Koyukuk River, a tributary of the Yukon. KYUK reports that scientists suspect that the summer’s record heat is the cause.


Screen shot of NWS Alaska Region on August 2, 2019.
NWS

The National Weather Service warns of possible elevated water levels and minor coastal erosion Friday afternoon through Saturday night from the Kuskokwim Bay to Hooper Bay. Southwest winds of 25 to 40 mph with high gusts are expected to push tides 1 to 3 feet above normal high tide.

Katie Basile / KYUK

It was a quiet weekend for wildfires burning in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Scattered pockets of rain prevented new fires from breaking out, but at least one fire has grown.

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