Division of Spill Prevention and Response


Wrangell Institute

Incident location map. Summary Date: August 2007 View detailed information from database on this site.arrow
Status: Active Database Name: Wrangell Institute
Location: Mile 5, Zimovia Highway, Wrangell, AK Latitude/Longitude: See database entry above
DEC Contaminated Sites Contact: Anne Marie Palmieri, Project Manager - 907-766-3184 



Location of site.

The Institute was built in 1932 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and used as a school for Native children until the 1970s. In 1978, the facility was transferred to the Cook Inlet Regional, Inc., and was used for several years as housing for the Forest Service for the Young Adult Conservation Corps. In 1995, ownership of the property was transferred to the City of Wrangell.

Contamination at the site is the result of leaks and spills along the heating fuel transfer and fueling systems. On-site there were two large 20,000 gallon fuel tanks which stored heating oil for the school. The fuel was transferred from tankers uphill to the tanks by a pipeline and then dispersed to the individual fuel tanks at each building by another pipeline. There were 12 small tanks on the property.

In 1999, the City removed all of the tanks and excavated 750 cubic yards of contaminated soil which was stockpiled in a rockpit. In 2001, the City performed a site assessment of the property, demolished all of the buildings, excavated additional contaminated soil which was stockpiled near the site, and collected samples to determine levels of contamination remaining on-site. In fall 2002, DEC contacted the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) to begin discussions about future cleanup actions. In October 2003, DEC performed a thorough site characterization of the site, installing monitoring wells and collecting soil, sediment, groundwater, and surface water samples.


Public Health and Environmental Concerns


The October 2003 site characterization determined that there is diesel-range organics contamination in the soil, groundwater and stream sediments. There is also polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination in the soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water.


Current Status


Approximately 6,000-8,000 cubic yards of petroleum-contaminated soil remained on site in the spring of 2007. The groundwater is also contaminated with diesel-range organics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In March 2007, DEC contracted with SLR Alaska, Inc. to develop workplans for soil removal and water monitoring. In April, SLR collected soil samples to help determine soil disposal options.

The Department of Justice signed a Consent Decree in June resolving issues of who pays for which part of the cleanup costs. The State will receive $2.35 million as reimbursement for past and future costs incurred by both the State and the City of Wrangell. This money will also pay for cleanup and long-term monitoring. The City requested that DEC conduct the work on the City's behalf, brokering the settlement and managing the cleanup. DEC has hired Shannon & Wilson to conduct the cleanup.The fieldwork began in August and should last 6-8 weeks.

The soil will be cleaned up to DEC’s most protective cleanup levels, which will allow for unrestricted future use of the property, per the City of Wrangell’s request. DEC's contractor will excavate all the soil with concentrations of petroleum above the DEC’s cleanup levels for unrestricted use. Highly contaminated soil will be placed in containers and sent to a disposal facility in Oregon. DEC will allow the City to use very lightly contaminated soil as landfill cover for the Wrangell Landfill closure project. Moderately contaminated soil will receive some treatment before its use or transport is decided. Excavation holes will be sampled to make sure that all of the contamination has been removed. Then they will be backfilled with clean material.

Samples of groundwater and surface water contaminant levels will be collected once a year until the cleanup levels are met. A sampling location will remain in the monitoring program until analytical results are below the cleanup levels for at least 2 successive sampling events. The first round of sampling will likely take place in Spring 2008 and will include all those wells and surface water locations where petroleum was detected, even if the detection was below the cleanup levels. The length of time the monitoring program lasts will depend on the analytical results.

DEC will allow site closure only when all of the soil has been removed and disposed of appropriately, either at the Wrangell Landfill or the Oregon facility, and the long-term monitoring program for groundwater and surface water has ended. Once the soil removal is complete, DEC would likely allow reutilization of the property so long as the groundwater monitoring wells were not damaged or removed.

More Information


For more information on the site chronology and cleanup activities, see the database entry on this site. The link is at the top of the page. See also:

  • Fact sheet, with site history and project timeline for cleanup, April 2007 (PDF 41KB)
  • Final Report 2004 (PDF 33M) Large file