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Juneau State Office Mailing Address Update

All mail sent to the DEC office in Juneau through the U.S. Postal Service must be addressed to P.O. Box 111800, Juneau, AK, 99811. Beginning October 1, all mail addressed to our Willoughby Avenue address will not be delivered and will be returned to sender by the Post Office. This change only impacts incoming mail to the Juneau office.

North Pole Refinery Project Home

Updated: October 10, 2018

PFAS Sampling

This summer, DEC sampled a small number of test wells for a group of chemicals called per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. These compounds have been drawing recent attention nationally, statewide, and in the Fairbanks area. Although PFAS were detected in North Pole groundwater, there is no evidence that people are being exposed to PFAS above protective levels in their drinking water.

To follow up on these results, DEC is currently planning a second phase of PFAS sampling in the North Pole area. This next round of sampling will be performed before the end of 2018 and will include an expanded number of drinking water wells with point-of-entry (POE) treatment systems, groundwater monitoring wells and private wells.

Community Open House December 5, 2018

North Pole City Hall

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

A Community Open House will be held December 5, 2018, at the North Pole City Hall, 125 Snowman Lane, North Pole. The status of both sulfolane and PFAS monitoring will be available. As in the past, the Open House will also provide up-to-date information on the piped water expansion system and will focus on the remaining construction activities in Zones 3 & 4. Private connections to the water main lines are scheduled to begin in mid-2019. The Open House will be an opportunity for the public to sign up for water service with the City of North Pole. 

Piped Water System Expansion 

The City of North Pole is expanding its piped water system to provide drinking water to residents impacted by sulfolane-contaminated groundwater. Stantec, an international engineering firm with a local office in Fairbanks, was contracted in 2017 to design the piped water system expansion and to manage aspects of the project. In January 2018, the City hired Exclusive Paving to construct the main water lines, scheduled to occur in two phases in 2018 and 2019. Construction of individual property water hookups and connections to the mains are scheduled to start in 2019. Construction details and scheduling are the purview of the City and Exclusive Paving. Prior to beginning construction in neighborhoods, Exclusive Paving will notify local residents and businesses.

Mid-July Update: The City of North Pole’s piped water expansion project is proceeding as scheduled, with water main pipes being installed in the area west of the city and south of the Richardson Highway (Zone 1) locally known as 12 Mile Village, and just north of the Richardson Highway (Zone 2). This phase of construction also includes constructing a pump house on Peridot Street, and construction upgrades at the City of North Pole’s water treatment plant.

DEC Continues Regulatory Oversight

DEC continues to oversee activities on and off the former refinery, including groundwater monitoring to track expansion of the offsite sulfolane groundwater plume. Most monitoring wells are sampled once a year, during the third quarter (this year sampling is scheduled July through -September). Provision of alternative water solutions continues for affected properties within the sulfolane plume.

Groundwater monitoring results are reported separately for monitoring on the refinery property (“onsite”) and off the refinery property (“offsite”). The expected timeframe for the next onsite report is late 2018, and the next offsite report should be available in early 2019.

  • See Documents page for posted monitoring reports for the offsite plume.

Overview

In 2009, sulfolane was detected in drinking water wells near the North Pole Refinery, about 15 miles east of Fairbanks. Under DEC oversight, property owner Flint Hills Resources Alaska (FHRA) responded quickly by providing affected residents and businesses with alternative drinking water and initiating an extensive characterization effort. The possible effects of long-term exposure to sulfolane through drinking water are not yet fully understood. The sulfolane groundwater plume is currently approximately 2 miles wide, 3.5 miles long and over 300 feet deep, and continuing to migrate to the north-northwest.

The current status of the sulfolane project is summarized below:

Alternative water supplies

While the piped water system is under construction, alternative water will continue to be provided to affected properties. Approximately 1,500 people receive alternative water.

Monitoring

While the piped water system is under construction, <>groundwater monitoring will continue throughout the construction process and beyond to track migration of the sulfolane plume.

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) continues toxicology studies

This important research on sulfolane will address questions regarding long-term exposure to the solvent. See more on the NTP studies.

Cleanup Level Review

Currently there is no cleanup level for sulfolane. The Spill Prevention and Response Division (SPAR) is continuing to review an appropriate cleanup level while waiting for information from research being conducted by the National Toxicology Program.

Documents of General Interest