Residents and Property Owners Information on Sulfolane
Updated: February 20, 2018
- What are the Risks?
- Recommendations from the Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services
- Disclosure of Contamination in Property Sales and Rentals
- Additional Resources
Agreement Reached on Piped Water Extension
Flint Hills Resources Alaska and the State of Alaska announced on February 7, 2017, that they will be working with the City of North Pole to significantly expand their piped public water system to provide sulfolane-free drinking water to residents impacted by the sulfolane groundwater plume.
This Notice to the public provides information about areas of contaminated groundwater in and near North Pole, Alaska. Releases of sulfolane at the former North Pole Refinery contaminated the groundwater throughout much of the City of North Pole and beyond the city boundaries. The sulfolane contamination affects many residents, homeowners, and landowners and is expected to remain in the groundwater for many years. The area of groundwater carrying sulfolane is approximately 2 miles wide, 3.5 miles long and over 300 feet deep, making it one of the largest areas of contaminated groundwater in the state. Maps that indicate the plume boundaries are available on the Maps page.
If you live in the area of the plume and have concerns about your water, contact the Groundwater Office of Flint Hills Resources Alaska (FHRA) at 907-488-0723 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Groundwater Notice is intended to help ensure that the affected community is aware of the contamination and appropriate safety precautions.
Specific purposes of this Groundwater Notice are to:
- Notify land owners, tenants, businesses, residents, real estate agents, and prospective property buyers of the contaminated groundwater;
- Protect the community from exposure to contamination, and
- Provide information to help the community understand the contamination and its implications.
What are the Risks?
The biggest potential risk to the public from sulfolane groundwater contamination is by drinking water contaminated with sulfolane. Since the 2009 discovery of sulfolane in drinking water wells, Flint Hills Resources Alaska (FHRA) has mitigated this risk by providing water or point-of-entry treatment systems to affected homes and businesses with any detections of sulfolane. In addition, bottled water is currently provided to properties in a "buffer zone" outside of the area of sulfolane contamination.
- If your water is delivered to a tank or if you are connected to city water, you are not at risk of drinking sulfolane contaminated water.
- If you are being provided bottled water, you are not at risk of drinking contaminated water.
- If you have a point of entry treatment system provided and maintained by FHRA, your water is safe to drink.
Common ways in which properties sulfolane may be impacted by the sulfolane groundwater contamination are described below, along with measures that can be taken to prevent exposure to the sulfolane.
Health Recommendations from the Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services
Possible impacts to properties within the sulfolane plume
- Well Water
- Indoor Air
- Bringing subsurface contamination above ground
Disclosure of Contamination in Property Sales and Rentals
Sale of residential property: Alaska law requires that, during the sale of residential property, any environmental hazard must be disclosed to a prospective buyer before completing the sale (Alaska Statute (AS) 34.70.010). Disclosure forms are available through the following link on the Alaska Real Estate Commission's website.
Sale of commercial or industrial property: Prospective purchasers are encouraged to hire environmental professionals to perform Phase I/II Environmental Site Assessments (ESA). The American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) has developed the industry’s Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments
Landlords and Tenants: Property owners who are landlords and provide rental properties to tenants should use reasonable care to inform tenants and provide remedies for environmental hazards as outlined in the Alaska Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (AS 34.03.010 – 34.03.360), and must supply clean and reliable water and safe and habitable living conditions. For more information, please consult the Department of Law's website and their publication "The Alaska Landlord & Tenant Act: What it means to you." Note: this law and the supporting document are both subject to change. To request a copy of the booklet, call 907-269-5200 or toll free 888-576-2529. You can also email your request to email@example.com.
For more information on sulfolane contaminated groundwater, please contact ADEC’s Contaminated Sites Program at 907-451-2117.
You may seek the service of an environmental professional to evaluate the nature of contamination and any potential risks associated with the specific property under consideration.
Fairbanks North Star Borough
DEC's page on Contaminated Real Estate in Alaska
Greater Fairbanks Area Contaminated Groundwater
- Gaffney Road
- Wendell Avenue
- Bentley Trust Tax Lot 201 and 203
- Bentley Mall East Satellite
- Six Mile Richardson Highway
- Eielson Air Force Base
- Fairbanks Fire Training Center (30th Avenue area)