Division of Spill Prevention and Response


Thane Bunker Fuel Tanks

Incident location map. Summary Date: November 2007

View detailed information from database on this site. arrow

Status: Open Database Name: Thane Bunker Fuel Tanks

Location: Juneau, Alaska

Latitude/Longitude: See database entry
DEC Contaminated Sites contact: Bill Janes, Project Manager - 907-465-5208

The 115-foot diameter tank

The 115-foot diameter tank during the 2005 cleanup efforts.
-- ADEC photo, November 2005



The Alaska Juneau Mine, better known as the AJ Mine, began operation in 1916. Within years it became the largest gold mine of its type in the world. At its peak, it was also the most important economic force in Juneau, employing 600 workers and helping the town to grow and prosper. Economic factors caused the mine to close in 1944, but not before it had produced more than $75 million in gold.

Two above-ground tanks, both 115 feet in diameter, stored fuel for the mine when it was in operation. The southern- most tank was cleaned out in the 1930s and removed except for the tank bottom, and backfilled with clean soil. The other tank, partially full of heavy fuel oil, was abandoned. Its roof collapsed in the winter of 1971-72. The tank walls were cut to about four feet and the roof remnants removed. The remaining structure is open and contains heavy bunker- C oil and much debris.

In the early 1990's, DEC tried to negotiate with the responsible party for cleanup of the tank still containing product but was unable to complete negotiations. The latest effort in 2005, although making some progress, did not complete cleanup. The property overlooks a cruise ship dock and is situated on the hill above Juneau's main waterfront street and a significant portion of the downtown tourist district.


Public Health and Environmental Concerns


The primary contaminants of concern are petroleum compounds which have not yet weathered. Exposure to fumes and accidental exposure to the sludge are of concern. The site also presents a safety hazard and an ongoing threat of a release to the nearby Gastineau Channel.


Current Status


In July 2007, an inspection of the site revealed that the tank contained 32” of mostly water, about 1,600 gallons of oil, plus debris and sludge. Six temporary holding tanks on site were filled during the 2005 cleanup efforts. One is open-topped. Altogether, approximately 27,000 gallons of oil, 78,000 gallons of water, and 97,000 gallons of sludge and solids are on site. The property also has stockpiles of oil-covered debris. Measures taken to prevent oil from washing offsite in runoff are still in place from 2005.

In September 2007, potentially responsible parties consisting of past and present landowners submitted to DEC for approval a cleanup plan prepared by the consulting firm Bureau Veritas. DEC approved the cleanup plan in early October. The firm is conducting removal this fall, removing the oil, sludge, debris and water. The site’s condition will be subject to follow-up assessment to assure cleanup is achieved in compliance with applicable requirements and standards.

Backhoe operating on the metal floor of the North Tank, November 7th, 2007

Backhoe operating on the metal floor of the North Tank, November 7th, 2007.

Bureau Veritas began work on October 8th, anticipating recycling as much fuel as possible and ensuring proper disposal of other wastes. The plan calls for setting up spill containment areas at the site. Oil will be vacuumed up and recycled or reused if possible. The plan lists possibilities of shipment to Seattle for recycling or use as cement kiln fuel, or use in Juneau by an asphalt batch if it meets specifications. The water will likely be treated in the City and Borough's sewer system unless chemical components prevent it. The sludge layer is to be solidified with binding agents and shipped south for likely disposal at a waste facility in Oregon. The empty tanks will be decontaminated and rinsed, with care not to release hazardous materials into the environment, and tank remnants will then be cut up and transported as scrap steel for recycling. Boundaries of the site will be controlled during the project, and the firm will minimize odors during their work. Cleanup began in October, with an estimated completion in mid-November. (See final workplan plan below.)

In November, Southeast Paving indicated that the oil in the temporary holding tanks contained too much small debris to filter in a practical manner. Further inquiries regarding the viability of processing the oil at their facilities for reuse as fuel revealed that the oil was not suitable for oil recycling or use as a fuel, based on factors such as debris and water content. The contents of the six holding tanks will instead be solidified and transported to Allied Waste’s Roosevelt Regional Landfill located in Roosevelt, Washington.

As of November 7, approximately 80 percent of the open topped, 115' diameter North Tank floor has been exposed. Decontamination of the empty portions of the North Tank will begin while awaiting additional diatomaceous earth, the solifiying agent, and transport containers in Juneau. The contents of the six smaller tanks will also be consolidated to allow decontamination to begin on a portion of the smaller tanks.


More Information, Recent Reports


Final workplan, October 2, 2007 (PDF 9MB)

Progress report #1, October 22,2007 (PDF 9MB)

Photo gallery on Thane bunker fuel tanks, 2005-07 (PDF 1.8 MB)

Contaminated Sites Database report - Thane Bunker Fuel Tanks. See our database of all contaminated sites for more information on this site. We have a glossary available to help you with any acronyms used in the reports.


DEC fact sheets

  • Cleanup process for contaminated sites (PDF 304K)

  • How DEC Makes Cleanup Decisions (PDF 20K)

  • Introduction to Groundwater (PDF 412K)

  • Understanding Contaminant Concentrations (PDF 164K)

  • Department of Defense Cleanups (PDF 59K)

  • Environmental Laws (PDF 39K)

  • Cleanup Methods (PDF 171K)