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Thousands of gallons of fuel spilled in Southeast Alaska

By Hope Miller 4:56 PM December 16, 2013

The ADEC is advising people to avoid harvesting shellfish near the fuel facility

ANCHORAGE – More than 5,000 gallons of fuel spilled into a harbor in Southeast Alaska Saturday.

The spill occurred in Kake shortly before 10 a.m. and was discovered by Kake Tribal Fuel Co. employees, according to a situation report from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. It was caused by a floating fuel dock severing the fuel line — which ran from the storage tank to a boat fueling station — when the tide changed overnight, officials said.

Initial reports speculated 7,000 gallons were spilled, but Kake Tribal Fuel Co. has since updated the estimate to 5,500 gallons, the ADEC said.

The spill response primarily focused on responder and community safety and vapor suppression in lieu of gathering and recovering the gasoline. That’s because these types of spills can quickly become flammable, said Sarah Moore, the state on scene coordinator.

A safety zone was set up around the facility and the local fire department misted the area with water to quell and disperse flammable vapors, the ADEC said.

On Sunday, there was no longer a sheen or odor around the fuel dock and vessels were able to return to the harbor, the ADEC said.

The area around the fuel facility is used recreationally to harvest shellfish, Moore said. The ADEC advises that people not harvest shellfish from the beaches near the facility.

“Shellfish consumption should be avoided where oil and/or sheens can be seen or smelled on the beach or if you see or smell oil on the animals,” the ADEC report said.

ADEC is coordinating with the Department of Health and Social Services to determine if shellfish sampling is needed.

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