Division of Spill Prevention and Response


Tanana Areawide Environmental Management Plan

Incident location map. Summary Date: August 2010 View detailed information from database on this site.arrow
Status: Informational  

Location: Tanana, Alaska

See DEC Brownfields Webpage
DEC Contaminated Sites contact: John Carnahan, DEC Brownfield Coordinator, 907-451-2166

Noyes Slough in 2000

A stockpile of petroleum-contaminated soil in Tanana. The soil was placed here during remediation of a leaking underground fuel-storage tank. This is one of many sites inventoried as part of the community's environmental management plan.



Tanana is located in Interior Alaska about 2 miles west of the junction of the Tanana and Yukon Rivers, 130 air miles west of Fairbanks. Because of its location at this river confluence, Tanana was a traditional trading settlement for Koyukon and Tanana Athabascans long before European contact. By 1900, the town had become an important source of services and social change along both rivers. After gold seekers left the Yukon, Tanana later saw establishment of an air base during World War II. The City of Tanana incorporated in 1961 and became a first-class city in 1982. The Native Village of Tanana is a federally recognized tribe located in the community.

In the spring of 2009, DEC developed an environmental management plan (EMP) for the community of Tanana, in coordination with the Tanana Tribal Council and other stakeholders. The impetus for the plan arose from the large number of recent and historical projects in the community, the multiple agencies involved in overseeing and coordinating work, the real and perceived environmental concerns, and the possible impacts these projects may have on future development opportunities in the community.

Through its DEC Brownfield Assessment program, DEC’s Reuse & Redevelopment (R&R or Brownfield) Program develops an EMP when environmental concerns associated with a site may affect the current use, reuse, preservation, or development of resources associated with single properties, multiple properties, an area, or a community. The EMP is focused on making a clear statement of historical issues at a property or properties, summarizing existing information and data about the sites in question, documenting information on community demographics, resources, and infrastructure, and describing proposed or planned future uses for the site. General cost estimates are also provided when sufficient information is available to help put future project requirements into context.

The EMP was designed to help the community, as well as state and federal agencies and various stakeholders, understand the diversity of known and suspected environmental concerns and how these problems may prevent or limit continued use, reuse, or redevelopment of property.

According to the DEC Contaminated Sites Database, 23 contaminated sites are located in and around Tanana. The EMP identified 14 additional sites of potential concern. These sites were identified through interviews with Tanana residents and visual observation.

The EMP will help guide the community as environmental work is underway or proposed at various sites in Tanana. It may also be used as a tool to help prioritize areas requiring further investigation. The plan summarizes the equipment, labor, and potential soil treatment options available in the community so future site cleanups can be planned for and budgeted more effectively. It may also serve as a basis for future grants and funding requests.

DEC’s R&R/Brownfield Program appreciates the cooperation and assistance from the Tanana community on this project.


Reuse/Redevelopment Goals


Cleanup of contaminated sites in Tanana will free up land on which to expand housing or other needed infrastructure.  The role of DEC’s R&R/Brownfield Program is to facilitate environmental cleanup coupled with economic development. The Tanana EMP can be used as an instrument to help identify and focus priorities, and aid in identifying financial assistance for cleanup and redevelopment.


Public Health and Environmental Concerns


A summary of the DEC record for each of the contaminated sites or leaking underground storage tank (LUST) sites in Tanana can be found by searching the contaminated sites database at http://www.dec.state.ak.us/spar/csp/search/ and selecting Tanana in the dropdown list under city.

Of particular interest is the Tanana Drinking Water Well, which is currently listed as a contaminated site. Detections of benzene in water extracted from the well in 1996 led to its listing on the contaminated sites database. Although the water treatment plant has included treatment for this contaminant and no exposures are currently occurring, the source of the benzene has never been investigated.

Fourteen additional sites of potential concern with respect to contamination with hazardous materials, mainly petroleum, were identified as a result of this EMP. These sites were identified from interviews with Tanana community members regarding current and historical activities and land use, as well as from visual observation during the site visit. The EMP report recommended that Phase I environmental site assessments be conducted at these sites to determine the potential for risks to human health and the environment. Two of these are areas with what appear to be full 55-gallon drums; the EMP recommended that actions be taken to prevent a release of contaminants from these drums. It also recommended that buried rail tank cars, which reportedly were historically operated as underground storage tanks (USTs) at the airport, be decommissioned in accordance with DEC UST regulations 18 AAC 78.

Land-farming was identified as the preferred remedial alternative for soils in areas where confirmed petroleum contamination has been sufficiently characterized.  This method would have to be approved by DEC and be in accordance with DEC regulations. For contamination with substances other than petroleum products, alternative methods will have to be evaluated and approved by DEC. 

Updates to this site summary will be made as project work progresses in Tanana.


More Information, Recent Reports

A complete copy of this EMP is available for download here (18.5MB) or can be viewed upon request at our office located at 610 University Avenue in Fairbanks, Alaska.