Pitkas Point residents file lawsuit against school district

Posted: Friday, May 26, 2000

BETHEL (AP) -- Residents of the village of Pitkas Point have filed a lawsuit against the Lower Yukon School District following a fuel spill last month that contaminated the village's water supply.

The complaint, filed on behalf of 104 residents, claims that the diesel fuel leaked from the school district's storage tank because of a corroded pipe coupling.

The leak, estimated at 40 gallons or more, was discovered on April 27.

The complaint also alleges that the school district ''negligently, recklessly or intentionally'' failed to promptly notify the people in Pitkas Point of the leak or the dangers to the water supply posed by the spill.

The school district is also accused of not cleaning up the spill in a timely manner. Because of this, according to the allegations, the Lower Yukon School District exposed the plaintiffs to physical pain, mental anguish, inability to clean clothes and to subsistence hunt and fish.

Residents are asking for a judgment in excess of $50,000 per plaintiff, plus punitive damages to be determined by the court.

Ray Griffith, superintendent of the Lower Yukon School District, would not comment on the lawsuit.

Bethel lawyer Jim Valcarce, who filed the suit said that under Alaska law, the owner of spilled oil is responsible to compensate people hurt by the spill.

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