On June 21, 2023, a report to Alaska Department of Environmental
Conservation (ADEC) and National Response Center (NRC) about a discharge of oil
from a culvert connected to a Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) storm water
drainage system that runs through the Alaska Native Medical Center Campus (ANMC)
into the southwest portion of University Lake. ADEC and MOA responders identified diesel
odors coming from an oil-grit separator (OGS) located immediately upstream of
the culvert discharge point. The OGS was observed to be full of oily water prompting
MOA to empty approximately 5,000 gallons of oily water from the OGS via a
vacuum truck. On June 27th the MOA hired contractors (U.S. Ecology) place
hard boom near the culvert to contain the product. ANMC was notified of the
discharge on June 28th and hired contractors (U.S. Ecology) contain
and recover oily water from the lake and OGS. EPA and ADEC stood up a Unified Command
on June 28th.
This spill source unknown but originated on the ANMC campus. It
entered the lake via the MOA’s stormwater sewer system, following an assumed
failure of the in-line oil-grit separator to contain the fuel. Sheen has spread
to most of the southwest shore of the lake. The discharge has not traveled
further downstream of the lake due to containment by a pre-existing ‘pollen
plug’ and downed trees. Several birds were observed inside of the containment boom
but did not appear to be impacted.
University Lake is a MOA City Park and designated ‘dog park.’ An
inlet and outlet to the lake exists and is identified as Chester Creek and an
anadromous stream that releases to Cook Inlet approximately 5 miles downstream.
The lake and park are bounded to the south by Alaska Native Medical Center, to
the East by a residential neighborhood, Alaska Pacific University to the North
and Elmore Drive to the west. Providence Hospital and University of Alaska
Anchorage (UAA) are further to the west. Chester Creek runs through the
Providence and UAA campuses. Several trails surround the lake, including a
paved commuter bike trail. Several shelters, presumably occupied by unhoused
persons, have been previously identified in the area around the lake. A
childcare program operates a summer camp on the northeast shore of the lake.
The MOA closed the park on 6/30/2023 and has posted signs notifying
the public of the discharge and closure. The daycare camp was also notified.
Qualified personnel from U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Department of
Agriculture/ Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Alaska
Department of Fish and Game have been actively engaged in hazing waterfowl away
from the contaminated area as well as deploying passive hazing tactics.