Division of Spill Prevention and Response


Brownfield Newsletter

Revitalizing Communities through the Recycling of Contaminated Properties

Vol. 13-2 ~ Summer 2013


John B. Carnahan
Brownfield Coordinator

Melinda S. Brunner
Brownfield Program Specialist


Keri DePalma
Brownfield Program Specialist

Contaminated Sites Program
Division of Spill Prevention and Response
610 University Avenue
Fairbanks, Alaska 99709
Phone: (907) 451-2156
Facsimile: (907) 451-2155


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Welcome to the SUMMER 2013 edition of the DEC Brownfield Bulletin!


We have just begun our new fiscal year for the DEC Reuse & Redevelopment (R&R) Program, and it is looking to be a busy and productive one. As always, summer is the time to balance our need to enjoy the sun while we have it, as well as get things done before the winter sets in. It is hard to believe that we are already on the downward trend from our Solstice festivities, heading toward those periods of less and less light (and cold). We will try not to think of that now.


We begin this new year with a new Brownfield Specialist, Keri DePalma (see story below) as well as a new Director for the DEC Division of Spill Prevention and Response (SPAR), Kristen Ryan. Ms. Ryan is replacing our former Director, Larry Dietrick, who had a long and distinguished record with DEC spanning more than 3 decades. Ms. Ryan recently held the position of Director of Environmental Health, and then spent the last year on loan as Deputy Director to the Alaska USEPA Operations. Our R&R Program is situated within the division of SPAR in the DEC hierarchy, reporting up to the Director. As always, the only constant you can rely on is change! We eagerly look forward to the changes in store for this year.


Our DEC Brownfield Assessment and Cleanup (DBAC) Program will be working on several promising projects this summer, taking us from the largest community in the State (Anchorage of course) to one of the smaller villages (Kwigillingok), with a stop in the moderate-sized rural community of Tanana. Most of our DBAC work is focused on assessment and clarification of environmental concerns that hinder property reuse and development interests. The DBAC Program is a service provided by our R&R Program that allows for free assessment and cleanup services at the request of applicants. More information on DBACs can be found on our website.


The R&R Program is planning an ASTM Phase I/II training session in December for Tribal Response Program participants, to follow up the interest expressed at the last Alaska STRP Workshop. Invitations to TRPs will be sent out once the timing and location is confirmed.


We are also planning to move our next Alaska Brownfield workshop into 2014 during the early spring when the World Ice Art Championships are in town. We hope that this part of the year is acceptable to many potential attendees as it will be a good time to discuss the final workplans that will be due shortly thereafter.


As we mentioned in our last newsletter, now is the time to be thinking about competitive brownfield grant proposals to EPA that will be due in November. If you are in need of information about what is available, please feel free to contact your project officer or our office. Information is available online and it takes many months to prepare for a competitive grant.


We hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and, as always, keep in touch.


Best regards,

John Carnahan
Alaska Brownfield Coordinator



In this issue:


Success Story Updates!

Cold Climate Housing Construction Completed, Buckland

New prototype cold climate housing constructed in Buckland, Alaska 2013.

Last year we reported on one of our R&R DBAC projects in Buckland, where in early 2012, we were informed by the EPA Region 10 brownfield coordinator that the Cold Climate Housing and Research Center (CCHRC), located in Fairbanks, was seeking emergency assistance to clarify environmental concerns at a property that was part of their new energy-efficient pilot housing project – apparently, more than $500,000 in supplies was currently stalled. It is often difficult to find the appropriate or eligible funding to address what might sometimes might be a minor environmental problem – still, the repercussions to a project can be significant. This project was a multi-agency endeavor involving the CCHRC, the Native Village of Buckland, the City of Buckland, the University of Alaska Fairbanks-Chukchi Campus, the Northwest Inupiat Housing Authority, and funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The perception or stigma that may surround a property can be devastating to development planning, and often at the most inopportune times. In this instance it became apparent after the fact, that a former community fuel depot was located close to the selected housing project site, which itself was an untouched piece of land. Although cleanup after the spill had occurred, the perception that contamination could impact this project persisted. Even though the cost for the DBAC was minimal, the repercussions of not having that information were significant. The property assessment report and letter from DEC were submitted to CCHRC and HUD allowing the vital community project to move forward. This recent photograph captures the newly constructed prototype home. We are pleased to have been able to play a small role in this beneficial project.

John Carnahan
Alaska Brownfield Coordinator



Community Center Demolition & Cleanup Completed, Kwethluk

Joseph Guy Community Center building undergoing demolition and
removal to enable site cleanup.

In 2012, the R&R Program began the cleanup of the former Joseph Guy Community Center, located in the heart of Kwethluk, after it burned more than 5 years previous. The R&R cleanup activities were initially at the request of EPA as they too were seeking assistance to address this site on behalf of the community after having completed an EPA Targeted Brownfield Assessment. The R&R Program coordinated closely with all parties, including EPA, the Native Village of Kwethluk, the City of Kwethluk, and DEC’s Solid Waste Program to make this project successful. Spanning two fiscal years and three field seasons, this work was completed in June 2013, rendering the site ready for reuse by the community. Their hope is to identify sufficient resources to rebuild the Joseph Guy Center, which was once the focal point for nearly all social activities in their community.


Former Joseph Guy Center footprint with building removed.

John Carnahan
Alaska Brownfield Coordinator

Preparing for Natural Disasters – Earthquakes, Floods, and Home Heating Oil Tanks

Those of us who call Alaska home relish its majestic mountains, expansive forests, rivers, and lakes, spectacular coastlines, and the resources they provide; but, the natural forces and cycles that make our state so extraordinary also bring persistent risks from earthquakes and floods.  While many are in the process of recovering from the devastating floods of early 2013, we would like to highlight ways to minimize the potential for future fuel releases from home heating oil tanks due to these natural disasters.


  • Close all connections to the fuel tank when flood warnings are issued.

  • Extend fill piping above the 100-year flood level.  This will prevent flood waters from entering the tank.

  • Underground tanks can be forced to the surface in a flood.  Extra flood precautions should be taken with underground tanks.

  • Use a flexible connection between the fuel tank and the house.  This will reduce the amount of damage sustained by the fuel line during an earthquake.

  • Inspect wooden tank stands annually.  Any deteriorating supports should be replaced.

  • Reduce damage to fuel tanks during floods and earthquakes by clearing the area around the tank of any tall or heavy items.


Fuel Stands for Earthquake Country
(Stand designs are shown for a 300 gallon fuel tank.)

  • Improperly braced steel stands can fail during an earthquake.

  • Tanks can roll off of wooden stands and stands can shake apart if not built well.

Drawings from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) website.
For more information on earthquake preparedness visit the DHS&EM website at:

Fuel Stands for Flood Prone Areas







  • Flash flooding and ice jams are a fact of life in many parts of Alaska.




  • Unanchored heating oil tanks can be easily moved during flash floods and ice jams.





  • Floating tanks can cause serious damage to buildings and the environment.

Drawings from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.

For more information on flood preparedness please visit the FEMA website at:  www.ready.gov/floods

For more information on heating oil systems visit:

DEC’s Preparedness Prevention and Response Program has additional home heating oil (HHO) guidance documents including tank installation guidelines, inspection guides for aboveground and underground HHO tanks, and closure guidance for underground HHO tanks.  For these brochures and more helpful information on residential heating oil tank systems visit:  www.dec.alaska.gov/spar/PPR/hho.htm

Region 10 Receives 10 Brownfield Grants – One in Alaska!

The Zender Environmental Health and Research Group was awarded an EPA 2013 Brownfield Workforce and Development and Job Training Grant to continue their Rural Alaska Community Environmental Job Training Program (RACEJeT). This is their second brownfield job training grant, allowing them to continue the work they started last year. The Zender program focusing on training unemployed residents of Rural Alaska Native villages as Environmental Technicians and helps place graduates in local jobs. With this grant, Zender plans to train 32 students, place 28 graduates in environmental jobs, and track graduates for fifteen months. The core training program includes instruction in 40-hour HAZWOPER, freon recovery, resource recovery and solid waste management, landfill operator, home and facility light auditing, forklift operator, site alternative treatment, LUST and above-ground storage tank removal, oil spill emergency response, water and soil sample collection, fuel tank inspection, and confined space entry. A total of four state and five federal certifications will be offered. Key partners include the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Association of Village Council Presidents Housing Authority, Total ReClaim, and other tribal programs throughout the state. Past graduates have gone on to serve their communities and regions in waste collection, landfill operation, backhaul, site cleanup tank inspection, oil spill response, and light auditing. Congratulations Zender and company!

John Carnahan
Alaska Brownfield Coordinator

institutional controls - Limited Contamination doesn’t have to Limit Property Reuse

To help get contaminated properties back into reuse in a timely manner, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) allows for the use of measures called institutional controls (ICs) to protect the public. The Environmental Protection Agency defines institutional controls as a broad spectrum of administrative and legal tools used to place conditions on contaminated properties to protect people from being exposed to any residual contamination that may remain on site. The intent of ICs is to provide protection from contamination to an unsuspecting public, and ensure proper documentation and enforcement of the imposed requirements.


For example, DEC may allow a responsible party to use ICs as part of their cleanup strategy, typically when cleanup has reached a point of diminishing returns and the remaining risks are manageable. The property owner might request DEC approval for specific restrictions on the future use of a property, such as limiting excavation in one area, or preventing the extraction and use of groundwater. This can allow properties such as brownfields to be safely developed and returned to productive use, while still ensuring that the public is protected from contaminant exposure. IC requirements can change over time and new cleanup can be completed in the future when it is more feasible, or economically viable to do so.


There are many types of IC mechanisms that can be applied, depending on the site conditions.  DEC most commonly uses an informational/administrative tool recorded in DEC’s Contaminated Sites database, or approves a Notice of Environmental Contamination attached to the property deed filed at the Department of Natural Resources Recorder’s Office. These tools provide notice to interested parties and communities regarding known contamination remaining on a property.  Examples of controls and conditions that could be specified in an IC record are:



  • Fencing or signs to prevent people from entering an area of contamination
  • Capping of residual contamination with clean soil, asphalt, or other material
  • Requiring DEC approval prior to excavation work
  • Periodic reporting by the landowner to DEC regarding current land use
  • Surface or groundwater use restrictions
  • Commercial/industrial land usage only (no 24-hour occupancy)

The DEC uses an IC tracking mechanism in the Contaminated Sites database and DEC staff conducts periodic reviews to verify that the ICs on a site remain protective and to ensure compliance by the landowner. In the event that a landowner is out of compliance with conditions placed on a property, DEC may re-open the site for additional regulatory or enforcement action in order to make sure human health and the environment stay protected.

The use of ICs in Alaska can assist in safely redeveloping contaminated properties that would otherwise be abandoned or underused, and thereby allow the revitalization of valuable land and infrastructure.


To learn more about ICs, contact Evonne Reese, Institutional Controls Unit at (907) 465-5229, or check out DEC’s Guidance on Using Institutional Controls in Oil and Other Hazardous Substance Cleanups.

For more information about DEC’s implementation of ICs at brownfield sites, contact John Carnahan at (907) 451-2166 or john.carnahan@alaska,gov.


Evonne Reese

Contaminated Sites IC Tracking Unit


R&R’s New Brownfield Specialist – Keri DePalma!

Keri enjoying time with her two boys on the slopes.

Keri DePalma began work with the DEC Reuse & Redevelopment/Brownfield Program in June of 2013. Keri is a Certified Professional Geologist (CPG) and has worked and lived in Alaska for 20+ years. Keri earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1994, and worked for the State of Alaska prior to DEC as a student intern with the Department of Geologic and Geophysical Surveys. Keri also worked for the United States Geological Survey as a hydrologic technician, an environmental geologist working to help build the Pogo Mine in interior Alaska, and as an underground mining geologist at Pogo. She has held other significant environmental and hydrogeologic roles and responsibilities, including: environmental consulting and site cleanup, major spill response and incident command, stream restoration, geotechnical work, mining, waste management, groundwater modeling, and environmental audits. Keri has worked outside of Alaska in the Oil and Gas Industry as a Water and Waste Advisor in the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas, Montana and the Gulf of Mexico.


Keri is very excited to return home to Alaska and work as part of the R&R/Brownfield Program, and assist communities with the varying facets of environmental management surrounding assessment and cleanup of contaminated sites so prevalent within Alaskan villages and other urban and rural places. Keri is a parent of two boys, 11 and 12 years old, and has been married to her husband for 23 years. Keri

feels truly blessed to have enjoyed many lifelong unforgettable experiences both in work and play. Keri enjoys downhill skiing, motorcycle riding, ice skating, Frisbee, football and swimming.


Keri can be reached at: (907) 451-2166 or at Keri.Depalma@alaska.gov


Brownfield Calendar

2013 Tribal Lands and Environment Forum
     When: August 19 – 22, 2013
     Where: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
An ambitious agenda is slated for this conference in New Mexico covering numerous important topics specific to tribal environmental interests. While R&R staff will not be able to attend it is our understanding that several Alaska tribes are planning to participate. On the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) website you can view the event's agenda, register for the forum, make reservations, and submit a proposal for a breakout session or training. For more information contact Todd Barnell, Program Coordinator at (928) 523-3840 or email at Todd.Barnell@nau.edu.


Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management
     When: November 12 – 15, 2013
     Where: Hilton Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska

The Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management will be held in mid November this year. It is our understanding that Kimberly Smith with the ANTHC Brownfield will be key in organizing the event this year. Although a specific brownfield track was held for the first time last year, it is unlikely that brownfields will have its own agenda this time around. Please contact Kimberly if you have ideas about a good session, or are interested in more information on the upcoming conference at: kjsmith@anthc.org


ASTM Phase I and II Environmental Training

     When: December 10 - 12, 2013
     Where: Anchorage, Alaska (specific location to be determined)

Due to popular demand, the DEC R&R Program is hosting a Phase I/II training for Tribal Response Program staff in December. While the details continue to be ironed out, we wanted to let the TRPs know that this was in the planning stages and we are working through the details at this time. This training is not currently open to the public. Each eligible TRP will be able to send at least one individual to the training. Depending on the number of interested participants from TRPs and government agencies, additional TRP staff, EPA, and DEC staff may fill remaining slots. More information will be sent to eligible TRPs as it develops. Please contact John Carnahan at john.carnahan@alaska.gov for more information.


Alaska Forum on the Environment

     When: February 3-7, 2013
     Where: Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, Anchorage, Alaska

Save the date!  It is never too early to start planning your training and conferences. This is the largest and most comprehensive event in the U.S. that focuses on the assessment, cleanup and revitalization of brownfields.
For more information, and to register, visit http://akforum.com/.


Alaska STRP Annual Workshop

     When: March 18-19, 2014
     Where: Fairbanks, Alaska

This annual workshop for Tribal Response Programs will be held in Fairbanks once again, but this year it will coincide with the World Ice Art Championships. The workshop is currently slated for the same Westmark Hotel location as in the past, although we are researching other potential venues. As always, we are seeking input from all the Tribal Response Programs as to relevant agenda topics to serve in the best interest of all parties. Presenters are always appreciated and all TRPs are encouraged to provide an update on their program or lead a specific discussion topic. Please contact Keri DePalma at Keri.Depalma@alaska.govif you are interested in helping at the next annual workshop


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