Tank leaks 85,000 gallons of fuel in Unalakleet

Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2000

UNALAKLEET - Workers spent the weekend cleaning up an estimated 85,000 gallons of aviation fuel that spilled in the tank farm for the airfield at this Norton Sound community.

One family in a home about half a mile away was evacuated after smelling fumes from the highly flammable gasoline.

A two-year-old tank full of the aviation gasoline ruptured late Friday afternoon, spilling its entire contents in about half an hour, according to Ed Meggert, on-scene coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation in Fairbanks.

The spilled fuel was being stored in two empty containers at the 17-tank farm. It wasn't clear what caused the quick draining of the fairly new tank, Meggert said. The valve was closed and the tank wasn't connected to the other containers in the tank farm.

The spilled fuel was caught by the lined containment area, he said, filling it about 18 inches deep. Workers were able to pump up more than half of the fuel by Monday morning.

That gas likely can be recycled, he said.

``They recovered pretty much pure product. There will be a use for it. But it's probably not usable as airplane fuel any more.''

The temperature was about 45 below when the spill occurred, and it didn't get above the single digits during the clean-up, he said, so the workers had a fairly easy time handling the liquid without slush clogging the pumps.

Yutana Barge Lines lent one of the company's pumps and some hose to help the effort, he said.

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