BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska school district must quickly remove diesel fuel from a school's tanks to prevent harm to the environment, officials said.
The Lower Kuskokwim School District has been ordered to remove the fuel contained in tanks in Napakiak, KYUK-AM reported Monday.
The U.S. Coast Guard issued an administrative order to the district Friday to complete the job by Aug. 30.
The district plans to transport the 36,000 gallons (136,271 liters) of diesel from a group of 10 tanks into three new tanks further inland from the Kuskokwim River.
The move was initially expected to begin in the spring following the river's annual freeze, officials said.
The order came a day after the Coast Guard traveled to Napakiak to inspect the site after receiving a report earlier in the week about the river advancing toward the tanks.
The water continues to creep closer to the community 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of Bethel due to significant riverbank erosion. Accelerated erosion has been responsible for more than 100 feet (30 meters) of lost shoreline this year.
The authority to issue the administrative order comes "if the threat of discharge presents an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare of the U.S.," the Coast Guard said in a published statement.
The Coast Guard measured 76 feet (23 meters) between the riverbank and the tanks.
"The Coast Guard is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment, and in this case that means we're taking preventative steps to mitigate the potential for pollution," said Lt. James Nunez of the Coast Guard's Anchorage Sector incident management division.
Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org