Coast Guard, DEC Respond to Diesel Spill in Kaktovik

A portion of the community of Kaktovik. Image-City of Kaktovik

A portion of the community of Kaktovik. Image-City of Kaktovik

The Coast Guard Unified Command reports that they have established a response to the diesel spill that occurred in Kaktovik and was discovered on Monday.

According to the report, an above-ground 5,000 gallon storage tank in the community, owned by the North Slope Borough, was found to have leaked an estimated 4,200 gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel earlier this week.

Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation pollution responders are treaveling to the scene about 1/4-mile from the Kaktovik Lagoon today. According to the Coast Guard, the spill impacted a gravel pad and ditch at the site.

When they arrive at the scene, they will conduct assessments and monitor the cleanup. They will meet up with Alaska Response Services, who was hired by the North Slope Borough to survey the scope of the spill and along with additional equipment and personnel, clean up the spill site.

Crews have been working to construct snow berms to “mitigate further impact and spread of the diesel,” USCG reported. The berms, along with the snow and ice, should limit the spread of the fuel, and protect the underlying tundra until cleanup efforts can be completed. Currently, there is no concern that the spilled diesel will reach the Beaufort Sea a quarter-mile distant.The spill did not result in the closure of the facility and the community is not suffering a fuel shortage because of the incident.

“We are working diligently with the Coast Guard, ADEC and the community to mitigate any potential environmental impacts of this discharge,” said Ian Stroud, Division Manager, North Slope Borough.

The Unified Command consists of the Coast Guard, ADEC and the North Slope Borough.

The cause of the incident is under investigation. It is believed that the leak was a result of a broken fuel pipe connected to a tank. The leak is thought to have occurred during a recent storm that just ended.

Kaktovik is located on the eastern portion of the Arctic Slope on the northern shore of Barter Island, just 90 miles from the Canadian border.