Division of Spill Prevention and Response



Database Name: Former APA Cannery (Ugashik)

Status: Active

Location: East side of Ugashik River, Ugashik

Latitude: See database entries

Longitude: See database entries

See DEC Brownfields Web page

DEC Contaminated Sites contact: Janice Wiegers, Project Manager, 907-451-2127             

Contacts updated: Sept. 1, 2012

Summary updated: March 2012

Click on photos or maps for larger versions.

View of the collapsing main cannery building. Looking southwest.


The cannery in Ugashik was developed by the Red Salmon Canning Company in 1901 to process locally caught salmon; the cannery operated until 1958, with a short idle period from 1939 to 1942. The cannery property consists of several structures and facilities, including the north cannery building, the main cannery building, a boiler room, a powerhouse and its annex, a former chemical storage shed, two ice plants, barracks, a garbage pit, three water storage towers, and several aboveground storage tanks (ASTs). The cannery property has since been divided into lots owned in part by private individuals and the Ugashik Traditional Village Council (UTVC).

A Targeted Brownfields Assessment (TBA) was conducted at the request of the community by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2003. The TBA final report summarized the environmental assessment activities and findings, and described the potential for site redevelopment
and reuse. In addition to the cannery property, the TBA
also investigated a nearby boat repair area, an abandoned
river ferry, and garbage pits near the village.

Human Health and Environmental Concerns

Abandoned for more than 50 years, many of the cannery buildings are in disrepair. The north cannery building is now being used for vehicle and equipment storage. The main cannery building, where fish processing operations took place, is collapsing and contains suspected asbestos-containing materials that may become airborne and transported through the building’s broken or missing windows and doors. The areas around the powerhouse and boiler room also contain suspected asbestos-containing material, partially full ASTs in poor condition, transformers, and stained soils.

View of the powerhouse annex. Looking northwest.

The TBA included limited sampling of the cannery soils, groundwater, and interior building dust. The site soils are confirmed to be contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The insulation on retorts in the main cannery building is confirmed as having asbestos-containing material. While no asbestos-containing source materials were identified in the north cannery building, asbestos was found in settled dust sampled in the building. Contaminants of potential concern include petroleum hydrocarbons, metals, pesticides, solvents, polychlorinated biphenyls (commonly referred to as PCBs), semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds, and asbestos-containing material.

The public may be at risk of exposure to contamination when visiting the site. Additionally, the cannery lies on the shore of the Ugashik River, which is a major habitat for sockeye salmon spawning and rearing. King, coho, chum, and humpback salmon are also found in the river. The environment is also home to sensitive species such as the endangered short-tailed albatross, the threatened Steller’s eider, and the northern sea otter.

Current Status

This site is active. A potentially responsible person search is underway. A responsible person (or party), as defined in 18 AAC 75.990(108), is required under Alaska Statute 46.04.020 or Alaska Statute 46.09.020 to contain or perform a cleanup of a discharge or release of a hazardous substance. 


View of the powerhouse and alley. Looking west.

Reuse and Redevelopment

Ugashik residents have expressed interest in redeveloping the cannery into a flash-freezer plant and salmon-smoking facility, and seeing the boat-repair area be converted into a recreational park and picnic grounds.