by Delta Discovery Staff
The fuel tanks for the Napakiak School are in danger of falling into the Kuskokwim River due to erosion. Currently, the riverbank is 76 feet away from the fuel tanks which contain 36,000 gallons of heating fuel, as of last week.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s oil spill response unit, which assessed the situation, gave the Lower Kuskokwim School District, which operates Napakiak School, until August 30, 2019 to remove the fuel tanks from their current location.
In a written administrative order to LKSD dated August 16th, 2019, the Coast Guard said to remove all fuel oils from the Napakiak School fuel storage facility and move them to an alternate location not subject to coastal or riverine erosion by the Aug. 30th due date.
“Any potential discharge may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare of the United States, including fish, shellfish, and wildlife, public and private property, shorelines, beaches, habitats, and other living and nonliving resources under the jurisdiction or control of the United States,” wrote S.C. Mackenzie, Captain of the U. S. Coast Guard and Federal On-Scene Coordinator for Western Alaska in the administrative order.
LKSD has the removal of the fuel tanks in-hand, but has requested help from the City of Bethel to provide fuel tanks that they could use temporarily until a more permanent solution is implemented.
The City of Bethel has in its possession one 2,000 gallon fuel tank and one 4,000 gallon fuel tank that it recovered from the former U.S. Army National Guard buildings and former laundromat.
A resolution for the Bethel City Council to authorize disposal of the fuel tanks to LKSD, sponsored by Acting City Manager William F. Howell, is on the City’s agenda for their August 27, 2019 regular meeting.
According to the resolution, the City of Bethel has no planned use for the used fuel tanks. LKSD is willing to purchase the tanks at the estimated value.
The school district issued a request for proposal for an emergency fuel oil storage tank facility in Napakiak on August 16th, 2019. Faulkner Walsh Constructors will be building the temporary fuel tank site for the school.
According to the RFP, the school district has two tanks from the old Kilbuck site along with three others, plus the City’s 2 tanks pending resolution.