The Ungalik Airstrip Drum Spill Site is at an abandoned/unusable landing strip on a saddle between unnamed hilltops north of the Ungalik River, about 4 miles inland from the east end of Norton Sound.
The presence of about 150 drums at the south end of the airstrip was first reported to the BLM in 1993. The airstrip is very remote and has no permitted user associated; ownership of the drums was unknown. The land is BLM-managed and is selected for conveyance to an Alaska Native corporation.
After unsuccessful attempts to locate the owner of the drums, BLM Northern Field Office Hazardous Materials Coordinators removed the drums during 2003 and 2004. During removal it was noted that some of the drums had leaked diesel-type fuel. Management of the land shifted to the BLM Anchorage Field Office in late 2004.
During 2006 the BLM inspected the former drum areas at the airstrip and determined that investigation of two areas where drums had apparently leaked was warranted.
A BLM Hazardous Materials Response Program contractor conducted a Site Characterization during 2007. A third former "Drum Area" showing evidence of spilled fuel was identified and investigated along with the two areas previously identified. Diesel-type fuel contamination which exceeds action level was found at all three areas from soil surface to depths over 6 feet. A copy of the site characterization report may be downloaded here: 2007 Ungalik Airstrip Drum Spill Site Limited Site Characterization Report
In 2008 a BLM contractor brought in more equipment and completed a thorough characterization of the site. It was discovered that while fuel contamination reached to over 12' in some places, that no ground water was present and the plumes were not likely to spread further.
During 2012 BLM contracted for cleanup of the spills. Working from an ADEC approved work plan, BLMs contractor excavated several hundred yards of petroleum contaminated soil. The excavated soil was placed into an adjacent "landspread remediation cell" and the excavations were backfilled using locally available material. Landspread treatment allows sunlight, oxygen, and microbial activity to break-down the petroleum over a period of time. This passive treatment process takes time, but in exchange is comparatively low-cost compared with more aggressive treatment processes.
The landspread will be inspected and sampled annually to document remediation progress. Once the contamination level drops below action level, the site will be allowed to naturally revegetate. ADEC will then issue "Cleanup Complete" determination for the site and the land will then be available for conveyance.