Division of Spill Prevention and Response

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Fairbanks International Airport, South Dale Road

 

Incident location map. Summary Date: August 2008 Back to Areawide Investigations Mainpage
Status: Active View detailed database information on these sitesarrow
Location: Fairbanks, AK Latitude: 64.81 Longitude: -147.88
DEC Contaminated Sites Contact: Neal Everson, Project Manager - 907- 451-2117

Description


The Fairbanks International Airport has operated since the 1950s, and fuel storage for supporting airlines and service industries have been a part of its history, like any other airport. Past practices of fuel handling, storage, and disposal, along with leaks and spills, have resulted in extensive underground soil and groundwater contamination. Environmental laws now prevent many of these kinds of leaks and spills. DEC treats each source of contamination individually, providing oversight to each responsible party. Past and present lease-holders known to be responsible for the groundwater contamination have made efforts to clean it up. These efforts are ongoing. Subsurface contamination is not necessarily easy to clean up, and a plume of groundwater contamination extends beyond the borders of the airport land to some of the homes nearby, particularly on south Dale Road.


The groundwater in this area is contaminated with petroleum products such as diesel fuel, aviation gas, lubricants, and chlorinated solvents. Contaminants called "lead scavengers" could also be contaminants of concern: ethylene dibromide (EDB), 1,2 dichloroethane (EDC), and 1,2 dichlorothane (1,2 DCA) were added to leaded gasoline to prevent buildup of lead deposits in engines until they were phased out of use in the 1980s. However, they are known to persist in the environment.


In addition to looking at individual sites, DEC takes an areawide look at the Fairbanks International Airport to see if the groundwater contamination which extends out of the area could put neighbors with drinking water wells at risk. Over several years, DEC has sent letters to neighbors who are possibly affected.


A number of areawide projects have been and continue to be conducted in the Fairbanks vicinity, including: the Six-Mile Richardson Highway groundwater investigation, the Bentley Trust lands -- see the areawide investigation web page.


 

Public Health and Environmental Concerns

 

Groundwater contamination in this area is the result of surface and subsurface spills of petroleum products such as diesel fuel, aviation gas, lubricants, and chlorinated solvents. The lead scavengers EDB, EDC, and 1,2 DCA were used as fuel additives until they were phased out of use in the 1980s. However, they are known to persist in the environment, and could be components of concern. Past and present lease holders known to be responsible for the groundwater contamination have made efforts to clean it up. These efforts are ongoing.

 


Current Status

 

As part of this cleanup effort, the responsible parties have identified and sampled private wells near known groundwater plumes. The results of these well searches and groundwater sampling indicate that groundwater contamination has migrated from some of the airport lease lots to several adjacent private properties. As a result, one property has been connected to the community water service, and a treatment system has been installed on at least one drinking water well.

 

Other industrial sources, as well as spills from privately owned above-ground or buried fuel storage tanks, including heating oil tanks, may be contributing to groundwater contamination in this area.  Many spills go undetected, or are not reported.  Due to potential unconfirmed sources it is not possible to fully assess groundwater quality in this area

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Contaminated sites in the Fairbanks International Airport area

Fairbanks International Airport (FIA) proposed areawide management area zone showing multiple contaminated sites and leaking underground storage tanks. Map prepared in 2005. LUST means "Leaking Underground Storage Tanks."


 

More Information

 

Database links: Even though these sites are being treated as a whole, our database records are kept as separate sites. The following three sites have been associated with migration of contaminants off-site and areawide problems:

 

 

Supporting Documents

  • Fact sheet mailed to potentially affected neighbors in April 2008 (PDF 358K)