Robert Gerlach, a local resident and member of the Talkeetna Community Council, says he was able to see the submerged bulldozer from the air on July 10th, and that chemicals appear to be leaking out of it, causing a sheen on the surface of the water. Shannon DeWandel from the Department of Environmental Conservation, says that the cleanup of the leaking fuel is best left until the source of the leak, the 18-ton bulldozer, has been removed from the water. She says that when the cleanup is done, that the holder of the original land use permit, Stephan Lake Lodge, will be responsible for paying for the process.
The recovery of the bulldozer cannot move forward until Stephan Lake Lodge and contractor Alaska Diversified Services submit a plan to the Department of Natural Resources, or DNR. Clifford Larson, a Permitting Manager for D-N-R, says that he spoke to the Lodge on July 11th, and anticipates receiving the plan on July 12th. The deadline for the plan is July 15th. Larson says that he has received some preliminary indication of what the plan might include.
“They talked about using float bags to lift this piece of equipment, which is approximately 40,000 pounds…and getting it to a location where it can be safely extracted once the conditions permit cross-country travel.”
Larson says that DNR does not plan to investigate the cause of the accident that caused the bulldozer to sink, killing it’s operator.
“Things happen. We don’t necessarily generate a separate report when an incident occurs, whether it be a tree falling, or a structure falling into the water or things like that. We certainly would do another field inspection. We want to verify that what they’re saying in the plan is actually happening, and that it actually does happen.”
The final plan will likely involve additional heavy equipment to remove the bulldozer from the lake, meaning that final recovery will likely not occur until the area receives sufficient snow cover.