Officials work to clean diesel spill at Selawik water treatment plant

An aerial satellite image shows the location of a diesel fuel spill in the  Northwest Arctic village of Selawik.
City of Selawik and the location of the diesel spill. (Google Earth graphic from the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation)

A response crew is working to clean up a diesel fuel spill in the Northwest Arctic village of Selawik. 

According to a release from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the spill originated last Wednesday, Nov. 25, at a fuel tank for the village’s water treatment plant. 

Officials say the fuel was transferred from a city fuel tank to the plant tank, and the transfer was left unattended for about 7.5 hours before the operator was alerted to the spill and shut off the valve at roughly 10 p.m. The spill was reported to DEC at roughly 2:30 a.m. on Thursday. 

A response crew has cleared 750 gallons of diesel so far, but due to fresh snow cover, DEC officials say it’s difficult to determine the total amount of diesel or the extent of the spill at this time.  

The spill is about 610 feet from the Selawik River, a water source for the village. Coast Guard officials arrived in Kotzebue on Monday and were en route to Selawik Tuesday to assist with the cleanup.