Crews in the St. Lawrence Island community of Savoonga are digging to reach contaminated snow after a fuel tank overflowed last Thursday and spilled thousands of gallons of diesel into a containment area. No fuel has breached the containment area.
The operator for the Native Village of Savoonga tank farm reports that a new employee opened the wrong valve during a gasoline purchase and pumped diesel fuel into a full tank, resulting in the overflow.
Wesley Ghormley is an Environmental Program Specialist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation and is monitoring the response for the state.
Ghormley says workers have collected 6,000 gallons so far.
They’ve removed around 100 cubic yards of uncontaminated snow, but have yet to get into the contaminated snow. Ghormley says he expects a significant amount of fuel-soaked snow, which will be stored in 270 gallon totes.
The recovered diesel will be able to be used after a filtering process. Ghormley expects another week of work to remove snow. He says the fumes are strong and crews are wearing full protective gear and using respirators.
DEC plans to send a representative out during spring thaw to complete a site assessment.
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