Ekuk lacks a designated landfill. Abandon vehicles were collecting trash and leaking fluids as they threatened the village's water supply. Delta Backhaul was hired for the cleanup.
Ekuk was cleaned up in early August. Delta Backhaul, a company that specializes in hazardous material cleanup, removed 11 cars and three freezers from the village.
Environmental Coordinator Jennifer Robinette said Ekuk has no designated landfill, so vehicles became personal garbage dumps.
“Trash collects trash,” Robinette said. "Once you get the bigger things out of a community, that kind of problem will help not develop anymore.”
The project was a top priority for the village. Not only were the vehicles collecting trash – they also leaked fluids.
“You know that time goes on, they are leaking something that you don’t want in your drinking water and I go down there and drink the water too,” Robinette said. “With anybody who’s down there, that’s always a concern, the environment is always a concern, our subsistence is always a priority, of course.”
The village used grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency’s IGAP program, a fund designated for tribes to establish environmental planning, to pay for the removal. Crew members and residents emptied the vehicles within three days. The cars are now ready to be sent to the Dillingham landfill over the next few weeks. Delta Backhaul owner Doug Huntman said it was the most economic option available.
“In this region of the country, transportation is very difficult,” Huntman said. “We just kind of weighed all the different outcomes and we spoke with the folks at the Dillingham landfill and that seemed to be a good option in this particular case. A lot of the times we do ship stuff south and we try to get it out of Alaska, to where it can be recycled and disposed of properly. But in Ekuk’s case it’s out of the community; it’s out of people’s yards.”
Huntman also met with the Friends of the Dillingham Landfill to discuss future projects in town.
While there is more work to be done in Ekuk, Robinette said now, the village is
better equipped to handle refuse removal.
“I feel confident that I could do this, just hiring and being able to direct it from start to finish now,” Robinette said. “So, all around, great success.”
The company is travelling to 10 more villages in September and October. The next in line are Sandpoint, Chignik Lake, King Cove, and Akutan.
You can contact the author at email@example.com or 907-842-2200