Fuel spill closes village school

Posted: Friday, March 04, 2011

ANCHORAGE — The elementary school at the Koyukuk River village of Huslia is indefinitely closed after diesel oil spilled out of an overflowing tank, Alaska environmental regulators said Thursday.

Classes were cancelled after an estimated 200 gallons of fuel flooded the boiler room and accumulated in the septic system Wednesday morning, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The utility corridor also was heavily contaminated by the heavy oil.

The fuel also was found on the ground beneath the elevated school, Tom DeRuyter with the DEC said.

No injuries have been reported.

Classes for the affected 38 students are cancelled through Friday and will resume Monday at the nearby high school, said Yukon-Koyukuk School District superintendent Kerry Boyd. The elementary school is closed to all but crews wearing ventilation masks and the building will be monitored round the clock.

“The students will be permitted to return to school when it’s safe,” Boyd said.

Crews are in the early stages of cleanup and repairs. Air monitoring also will be conducted before the school is reopened, DeRuyter said.

The spill occurred when the automated fuel transfer pump and tank overfill protection system failed, according to the DEC. The school was built in 1972, but Boyd didn’t know when the failed system was installed.

Huslia is an Athabascan village of 265. It is located 260 miles northwest of Fairbanks.

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