The State of Alaska has filed criminal charges against Aleut Enterprise, a subsidiary of the Aleut Corporation, over a fuel spill in Adak.
The spill happened in January 2010, during a fuel transfer from the tanker Al Amerat to Adak Petroleum’s shore-based storage facility. A state investigation concluded that the fuel storage tank was overfilled, flooding a nearby stream.
Now, the state is alleging that Aleut Enterprise and Michael Baker, the facility manager, were to blame for the spill.
In the charging document, the state’s attorney writes, “Michael E. Baker was informed that the volume of fuel being put into tank N-7 exceeded the maximum fill level… and made the decision to continue filling the tank above that level.”
The state also alleges that required alarm systems were broken, along with the secondary fuel containment system. That equipment was supposed to capture runoff in the event of a spill, but the state alleges that the valves were rusted open, rendering it useless.
Both Aleut Enterprise and Baker are facing ten counts of misdemeanor criminal negligence. For Aleut Enterprise, each count carries a potential penalty of up to $500,000. For Baker, each count carries a potential penalty of up to $10,000 and a year in jail.
Neither the state nor Aleut Enterprise would discuss the case.
Just days before the criminal charges were filed, the state and federal governments settled a civil lawsuit with Aleut Enterprise over the incident. The company agreed to repay the government $277,000 in ‘past costs’ and do restoration work in Helmet Creek, the waterway that was contaminated by the spill. But the company did not admit any wrongdoing.
There’s an arraignment hearing set for August 7.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the potential fines the company and individual faces.
- August 31, 2015- President Barack Obama says submerged countries, abandoned cities and floods of refugees await the world unless it takes urgent action on climate change.
- August 31, 2015- It's a victory for Gov. Bill Walker, who announced this summer he was expanding Medicaid without the approval of the legislature.
- August 31, 2015- President Barack Obama touched down in Alaska Monday for a three-day tour to the state, and beyond focusing on climate change in visits to Anchorage, Dillingham, and Kotzebue, the president began his trip by restoring the Koyukon Athabascan name to North America’s highest mountain.
- August 31, 2015- The president, secretary of state and leaders from around the world are in Anchorage to discuss climate change.