FAIRBANKS, Alaska - River erosion is tearing apart an Athabascan village on the Koyukuk River, 290 miles west of Fairbanks by plane. Second Chief Speedy Sam of Huslia says that they have been working for the past two weeks to slow down the erosion, by placing tree logs along the coast. One family of four has lost their home and there are currently five more homes that are threatened by the encroaching river. The Army corps of engineers confirmed that they are aware of that erosion from the Koyukuk River. In 2015, the community of Huslia requested assistance under section 14 of the 'Flood Control Act of 1946'.
Bruce Sexauer, from the Army Corps of Engineers Alaska District said in a statement:
"The preliminary assessment determined that the cost to protect the stream bank was estimated at $17-million versus $3.1-million to relocate the affected public facilities. Section 14 only allows for protection of public facilities, does not pay for relocation and has a maximum federal funding limit of $5-million per project. For these reasons, we informed the community that its problem is not eligible for assistance under Section 14."
We also spoke to the Department of Environmental Conservation, who explained what they found while looking into possible contamination.
"They remember tank farms near the river that were moved because of erosion and it looks like in our files it was assumed that that tank far had already eroded away but looking at current photos however and old figures that we have in our files its quite possible that that tank farm area is still there and the contaminated soil associated with that tank farm is still there," said Janice Wiegers, Environmental Program Manager for the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Since it's possible that there is still contamination, the DEC will be sending a team out on Monday to evaluate the area.