North Pole Refinery - Project Home
Updated: Mar. 12, 2014
The discovery in late 2009 of sulfolane in drinking water wells near the North Pole Refinery, about 15 miles east of Fairbanks, has led to an extensive investigation of contaminated groundwater. The plume is nearly 2.5 miles wide and 3 miles long, one of the largest in the state. Flint Hills Resources of Alaska, the current refinery owner, responded quickly to offer affected residents an alternate drinking water source. Sulfolane, an emerging contaminant, was at first not officially listed as a hazardous chemical, and its long-term health effects from exposure have not yet been studied. This event has been unprecedented for the Contaminated Sites Program due to the number of properties affected with private drinking water wells and the size of the plume. For an overview in more detail, see Frequently Asked Questions.
State-Directed Priorities Are To:
- Eliminate exposure to sulfolane.
- Pursue aggressive on-site remediation.
- Eliminate off-site contaminant migration.
- Achieve and maintain source control:
- Maintain an inspection process that eliminates releases or leaking issues and minimizes the potential for new spills.
- Aggressively respond to and clean up any new spills.
- Understand the size and shape of the contaminant plume and its potential for future movement in order to develop a comprehensive and protective cleanup plan.
- Complete an evaluation of risk that accounts for all exposure pathways and cumulative risk.
Look At What's Happening
- DEC Sulfolane Investigation Update - December 2013.
- New map showing sulfolane plume monitoring results for the 1st quarter of 2013.
- New document: Groundwater Monitoring Report 1st quarter 2013.
- Fact sheet on Health Recommendations and Next Steps (June 2013).
- Updated Frequently Asked Questions (June 4, 2013).
- Also available: Site Characterization Addendum (December 2012), Site Characterization Work Plans for 2013, and Interim Remedial Action Plan Addendum (January 2013).
- National Toxicology Program Accepts Sulfolane, Initiates Toxicity Studies
- Developing a Groundwater Cleanup Level for Sulfolane
- TPT Meeting Summaries
- Laboratory Key Elements for Sulfolane Analysis in Water, Soil and Plants
Other project news
Past newsletters, TPT updates and other information can be found on the Documents page.