North Pole Refinery Project Home
Updated: September 20, 2018
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.
- See the results of the sampling and additional information about the PFAS sampling.
- For more information on these chemicals, see DEC’s page on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Early Announcement: Community Open House December 5, 2018
A Community Open House will be held December 5, 2018, at the North Pole City Hall, 125 Snowman Lane, North Pole. The status of the 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. Times for the Open House will be announced soon.
Piped Water System Expansion
- See current maps and other information on the North Pole Water System Expansion project on the City of North Pole's website.
- See additional construction information on the project's Facebook page of Exclusive Paving, the City's contractor for water main construction.
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.
- See Documents page for posted monitoring reports for the offsite plume.
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:
- See more on alternative water supplies.
- See more on groundwater monitoring.
- See more on the NTP studies.
- The August 2015 newsletter (PDF 1.5M) describes the sulfolane cleanup level situation.
Documents of General Interest
- 2017 Offsite Groundwater Sulfolane Plume Monitoring Plan, City of North Pole and Fairbanks Borough - published June 2017
- Maps showing sulfolane plume monitoring results for 2017.
- Groundwater monitoring reports for 2017
- DEC Sulfolane Investigation Update newsletters
- 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