Haul Out or Clean Up: Preventing fuel tank contamination.

Author:Orr, Vanessa

For many Alaskans it's still necessary to use fuel tanks to heat their homes as well as to provide fuel for commercial businesses and government facilities. And while these tanks are vital to the state's well-being, they are often out of sight and out of mind--which means that no one pays much attention to them until there's a problem.

A leaking fuel tank causes nothing but problems, including contaminating groundwater, which not only adversely affects people in the community but also populations of fish and other wildlife. In some cases, underground tanks have been left to corrode for so long that they have wreaked havoc on the environment, resulting in state and federal programs designed to address the damage.

According to the Alaska Department of Conservation, about one-third of the sites in its contaminated sites program are on federal lands, with most of these on military bases. Another one-third are privately owned and can include commercial and/or industrial properties. The rest are owned by the state and local governments.

Whether dealing with an individual tank or sites with numerous abandoned tanks that need to be decommissioned, companies that maintain, clean, and remove dirty or damaged fuel tanks play a huge part in protecting Alaska's environment.

Alaska Army National Guard Sites

Eagle Eye Electric, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC), is in the process of draining and closing--or bringing up to compliance standards--diesel fuel tanks in more than fifty Alaska communities. The forty-eight-month contract for cleanup was awarded in September 2015 by the Alaska Army National Guard (AKARNG), which is funding the tank closure as a way to reduce federal liability associated with the sites. To date, the field effort is complete, though reporting is still underway.

"AKARNG has many facilities throughout the state of Alaska, and the vast majority of these sites have fuel oil storage tanks, many of which were not in compliance with federal regulations due to lack of required appurtenances," says Miriam Aarons, corporate communications director, BSNC. "Remote sites may not have assigned personnel onsite to be able to regularly inspect these tanks, leaving them vulnerable to vandalism and [at] increased risk for spills.

"The old Scout Armory Program that allowed AKARNG to operate these small facilities is no longer active, and since then the facilities have been sitting empty with very little use," she...

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