KODIAK, Alaska — The operator of a remote Alaska lodge that was the site of a serious oil spill says he had Coast Guard permission to store petroleum in a bladder within a building suspended over a beach.
The Coast Guard denies it gave Mark Krall permission to store oil in the bladder kept in a building on pilings on Shuyak Island, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.
The lodge is 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of the city of Kodiak.
A storm Feb. 23 with winds to 80 mph (130 kph) collapsed the building. The bladder broke, spilling nearly 3,000 gallons (11,356 liters) of bunker C fuel oil onto the beach and surrounding area.
The cleanup cost about $9 million. The spill is under investigation and could result in criminal charges.
Mark Krall since 2012 has used Port William Lodge to operate guided fishing and hunting trips. Old fuel oil, he said, was stored in a tank on the property until 2013 when a stray bullet punctured the tank.
"I was ordered by the Coast Guard to get the oil out of that tank and into the bladder," he said. "They specifically told me to put it in the bladder."
He does not believe he is responsible for the spill.
"They seem to think that I have some kind of liability because I own the bladder," Krall said. "But I was also ordered by the Coast Guard to put it in the bladder. It's like a Catch-22 government operation."
Coast Guard spokeswoman Lauren Dean said the option of moving the oil into the bladder was presented by the tenant. The option was not approved.
"The Coast Guard then asked for other options to be explored and, at the time, we did not receive any other options to review," Dean said.
The owner of the property is Bruce Cooper of Chugiak. Cooper purchased the land in 1985 and set up a business called Y Knot Charters.
Krall took over the business in 2012, set up a limited liability corporation called Port William Wilderness Lodge and used the property as a base for guided hunting and fishing tours.
Krall is shutting down his business. The spill was out of his hands, he said.
"I did everything I could do to stop this from happening," he said. "I can't control Mother Nature."