May 10, 2021 (Juneau, AK) – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has directed the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Spill Prevention and Response (SPAR) to allocate up to $2.5 million for the safe removal of asbestos and debris left behind after an abandoned school building in Chevak burned to the ground last March. Following a site visit by staff from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Governor determined the community needs assistance to remove asbestos that poses an immediate threat to the health of Chevak residents
“The snowpack covering the asbestos is melting away in Chevak and once it is gone, the contamination will become a potential health risk for the community,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Communities would normally be responsible for this type of cleanup, but the scope of the problem makes it appropriate for the state to step in.”
In addition, it is possible that there are the remains of two members of the community within the debris, and this was considered when the decision was made authorizing use of SPAR’s Response Fund to immediately conduct cleanup efforts. The instability of the debris and the presence of asbestos made it unsafe for Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Fire Marshal investigators to search for the remains. SPAR will work with the DPS and the Community of Chevak to support additional search or recovery activities within the debris.
The administration plans to replenish the SPAR account using federal ARPA funds.