Workers continue to clean up APL diesel spill in Buskin River

More than 1300 gallons of diesel spilled at the APL yard

Fuel spilled into a ditch that led into the Buskin River

DEC is investigating the cause of the spill


Workers deploy fuel spill cleanup devices in the APL yard / photo by Maggie Wall
Shipping containers stacked up near the APL yard / photo by Maggie Wall

Less than a week before the 30th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster, Kodiak is experiencing its own oil spill, albeit on a much smaller scale. Early Saturday morning, more than 1,300 gallons of diesel leaked out of a refrigeration unit fuel line on the American President Lines yard, according to a March 17 report from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

By the time the leak was discovered at 9 am on Saturday morning, the DEC report says, the entire contents of the 2000 gallon fuel storage tank was empty. An APL contractor reported the amount of fuel leaked as 1,369 gallons, though an updated DEC report on March 19 is working to verify the number.

According to the report, rain washed the spilled diesel from the shipping company’s yard, located by Anton Larsen Bay Rd. and Old Tom Stiles Rd., into the Buskin River, and from there into the ocean. The Buskin is a popular source for subsistence and sports fishing in Kodiak.

DEC On-Scene Coordinator Geoff Merrell said Monday that investigations are continuing into the cause of the spill.

“We know that from the initial report that there was a fuel tank that the supply line parted for whatever reason and the tank contents drained out. We know that much,” he said. “What caused the line to part, where did it part, what were the circumstances, those are sorts of things that we don’t know yet.”

A March 16 aerial photo of the APL diesel spill where the Buskin River empties into the ocean / photo courtesy of American President Lines Ltd.

Merrell confirmed that APL could face legal consequences for the spill, and added that DEC is also looking into APL’s response time as part of the investigation.

“The way the state regulation is written, is when you discover a spill you have to report it ‘immediately.’ In this case it looks like it took about three hours to make notifications.”

In an emailed statement APL spokesperson Darrell Wilson said the spill has been “rapidly contained.” He added, “APL is cooperating fully with the federal and state authorities to respond to the spill and mitigate any possible impacts.”

Environmental impacts are still being assessed, said Merrell, but in the meantime multiple agencies including the Coast Guard Fire Department and Marine Safety Detachment are making progress to clean up the spill. As of March 19, the report said “no dead or apparently sick wildlife have been
observed in the impacted area.”

Click here to read the updated DEC situation reports.

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