North Pole Refinery Project Home
Updated: March 22, 2018
- 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, with land clearing beginning in February 2018. 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.
- See current maps and other information on the North Pole Water System Expansion project on the City of North Pole's website.
- See Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Construction - City of North Pole Water Expansion, by Stantec, Inc. (PDF), published January 2018.
- See additional construction information on the project's Facebook page of Exclusive Paving, the City's contractor for water main construction.
DEC continues regulatory oversight of activities on and off the former refinery property, including continued monitoring to track expansion of the offsite sulfolane groundwater plume. Piped water is the safest alternative water supply, and DEC and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services recommend its use.
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
- The National Toxicology Program (NTP) continues toxicology 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.
- The August 2015 newsletter (PDF) describes the sulfolane cleanup level situation.
Documents of General Interest
- Maps showing sulfolane plume monitoring results for the 2nd half of 2016 (3rd Quarter results).
- First and second semiannual groundwater monitoring reports for 2016 - dated January 31, 2017
- DEC Sulfolane Investigation Update newsletter - August 2015 (PDF 1.4M)
- DHSS Fact sheet on Health Recommendations and Next Steps (PDF 242K) (June 2013)
- DEC fact sheet "Sulfolane: Research Efforts by the National Toxicology Program (PDF 104K) - June 2015, revised February 2017