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Site Report: City of Fairbanks Regional Fire Training Center Burn Pit

Site Name: City of Fairbanks Regional Fire Training Center Burn Pit
Address: 1710 30th Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99701
File Number: 102.38.182
Hazard ID: 26309
Status: Active
Staff: Robert Burgess, 9074512153
Latitude: 64.821181
Longitude: -147.750245
Horizontal Datum:WGS84

We make every effort to ensure the data presented here is accurate based on the best available information currently on file with DEC. It is therefore subject to change as new information becomes available. We recommend contacting the assigned project staff prior to making decisions based on this information.


In 2014 a site investigation was conducted associated with the closure of the burn pit (a.k.a. combustible liquids pit) at the Fairbanks Regional Fire Training Center. The pit was constructed in 1987 and used for firefighting exercises for about 20 years. These exercises consisted of filling the pit with water, adding fuel (jet, diesel and/or gasoline) to float on water and then igniting and extinguishing fires. The pit is reported to have not been used for about 10 years. The pit can be identified from satellite imagery as a circular feature and is reported about 40 feet in diameter with a concrete rim, 2 feet of gravel, and a liner. To prepare the pit for decommissioning, samples were collected from standing water and sediment in the pit. Petroleum and perfluorinated compounds were detected in water. DEC recommended collection further characterization data before determining disposition of the contents of the pit as PCBs were reported as non-detect at elevated reporting limits and the solid material was not analyzed for perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). PFCs were detected in the water samples collected from the pit. DEC recommended further site characterization to include sampling of soil and groundwater for petroleum and PFCs.

Action Information

Action Date Action Description DEC Staff
11/13/2014 Site Added to Database A new site has been added to the database Mitzi Read
1/16/2015 Potentially Responsible Party/State Interest Letter PRP letter sent to City of Fairbanks. Robert Burgess
6/29/2015 Report or Workplan Review - Other DEC reviewed and approved the Phase 2 site investigation work plan describing the installation and sampling of soil borings and well points around the burn pit. Robert Burgess
8/31/2015 Update or Other Action Site was moved from "unconfirmed" to "active" status, after receiving telephone call from consultant stating that perfluorinated compounds and diesel range organics were detected above advisory or cleanup levels in groundwater at the site. Robert Burgess
9/1/2015 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants, Shannon & Wilson, to discuss the recent detections of perfluorinated compounds and petroleum in groundwater beneath the burn pit. DEC requested a drinking water well search and additional investigation to characterize the extent of the contaminant plume as soon as possible. Robert Burgess
12/29/2015 Report or Workplan Review - Other DEC reviewed the DRAFT Results of Off-Site Well Sampling report. An irrigation well at the Interior Girls Softball Association softball fields was sampled, as well as an existing monitoring well on Davis road near Peger. The irrigation well is 117 feet deep and sub-permafrost, while the monitoring well is screened at a depth of 40 feet. Both wells contained PFOA and PFOS at levels below the proposed DEC cleanup levels and the EPA public health advisory levels. Because the detections occurred at a fairly long distance from the site, DEC recommended beginning a drinking water well search immediately and delineating the contaminant plume as soon as possible. Robert Burgess
2/10/2016 Public Notice The City of Fairbanks sent notice to local news agencies about the drinking water well search in an attempt to ensure that residents are informed and will contact the City or DEC if they have drinking water wells. Letters, fact sheets, and well survey forms are being distributed to businesses and homeowners within the well search boundaries. Well sampling will begin next week. Robert Burgess
3/4/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants. Well sampling results indicate that all of the private wells tested contained PFOA and PFOS, however only one well contained PFOS in concentrations higher than the current EPA provisional health advisory level. The city will provide bottled water to this resident as well as several wells that have not yet been sampled near this residence and between the property in question and the source area. Additional wells in the area will be selected for sampling, and DEC stressed the importance of expanding well search areas to ensure protectiveness. Plume delineation will continue this summer as soon as well installation is practical. Robert Burgess
3/11/2016 Update or Other Action DEC received the proposed schedule for well sampling. Several additional wells within the initial search area have been selected for a round of sampling that will begin on Monday, March 14. Additional wells in the Peger road area may be sampled at later events, and plume delineation consisting of transects of wells of varying depths will take place this summer. Robert Burgess
3/25/2016 Exposure Tracking Model Ranking Initial ranking with ETM completed for source area id: 79700 name: Burn Pit Robert Burgess
5/13/2016 Update or Other Action The consultant for the City of Fairbanks notified DEC that sample results from the last round of private well sampling are delayed due to problems with instrumentation at the analytical laboratory. An additional round of sampling is still scheduled to take place beginning May 16. Robert Burgess
5/20/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants to discuss the latest round of drinking water well sampling as well as the updated EPA Health Advisory levels published on May 19, 2016. The new Lifetime Health Advisory is set at 0.07 micrograms per liter (total PFOA+PFOS); at this level four additional wells that have been tested now exceed the health advisory concentration. Bottled water was already being provided to the homes near the fire training center, and deliveries will begin for the additional residence that exceeds current advisory levels, which is located roughly one mile from the training center. The city continues to work with DEC to move forward on additional well sampling and long-term monitoring plans as well as delineation of the contaminant plume. Robert Burgess
7/1/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants to discuss the most recent drinking water well sample results, bottled water deliveries, and long-term plans for delineating the PFC plume and providing drinking water to affected homes and businesses. Because of positive PFOA and PFOS detections, the well search and sampling continues to expand. Installation of monitoring wells for plume delineation is in the planning stages, and will include nested wells that are screened at several depths. Robert Burgess
7/21/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and Shannon & Wilson to discuss the latest sampling results and ongoing investigation as well as best methods for communicating with the public regarding the health risks and ongoing site work. Robert Burgess
8/10/2016 Update or Other Action DEC published information on the site on the contaminated sites site summary page. The page will be updated as site work progresses to provide accessible summaries to the public and concerned residences. Robert Burgess
8/11/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held A public meeting was held to discuss the history of the site, current investigation priorities, potential health effects and risk, and for general discussion with affected residents. Robert Burgess
8/19/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and Shannon & Wilson to discuss the most recent sampling results, site plans, and public information. Additional exceedances were noted in irrigation wells, and results from wells that were re-sampled showed significant fluctuation in concentrations of PFOS, with some wells increasing in concentration and some decreasing. Plans for plume delineation and long-term monitoring are underway; the city's current primary focus remains with drinking water well protection, while plans for monitoring well installation and plume delineation continue to be developed. Robert Burgess
9/28/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants to discuss the most recent sampling results (samples collected from drinking water wells in August 2016). Ten of the wells sampled had concentrations of PFOA+PFOS that exceeded the EPA health advisory level. The City is delivering bottled water to affected residents and is evaluating long-term and permanent solutions to provide clean drinking water. The City is also expanding their well search and continues to develop plans for plume delineation and the installation of monitoring wells. Robert Burgess
10/13/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and Shannon & Wilson to discuss the most recent drinking water well sample results (samples collected September 2016). Four additional exceedances were noted west of Peger Road near Picket Place. The City agreed to continue expanding its well search area and to include surface water samples from the gravel pits around Picket Place. The City noted that some recipients of bottled water are complaining that it is insufficient, and the City is looking into alternative temporary solutions including water coolers or filtration systems. It was agreed that another public meeting should be held to ensure that residents of the area west of Peger are informed and can raise their concerns with the City and DEC. Robert Burgess
11/17/2016 Meeting or Teleconference Held A public meeting was held to update residents of sampling efforts, plans to manage the plume and mitigate exposure, potential health risks, and to discuss concerns of residents. Robert Burgess
3/16/2017 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC continues to hold meetings with the City and their consultants approximately once a month, or whenever additional sample results are received or significant progress reported. During the meeting on March 16, Shannon & Wilson reported sample results from the 8 wells tested in Well Search Area 10, just north of the Chena river between University Avenue and Loftus Road. All sample results were less than half of the Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) level. In addition, plans for connecting homes exceeding the LHA to municipal water supplies and plans for interim removal actions at the regional fire training center were discussed. Quarterly sampling will continue for homes and businesses with drinking water wells that are not currently being connected to municipal water and have PFOA+PFOS concentrations at or exceeding one-half the concentration of the LHA level. Robert Burgess
7/27/2017 Update or Other Action DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants to discuss ongoing progress for the site. Excavation of the original burn pit, liner, and contaminated soil beneath the pit is planned to begin within the next week. Water main connections for homes and businesses with concentrations exceeding the lifetime health advisory level are underway; the City reports that 20 homes will be hooked up by the end of the week. Areas where water main extensions are required will take more time, but work is ready to begin as soon as funding is approved by the city council. Quarterly sampling of drinking water wells continues. The group agreed to hold another public meeting on August 24, 2017, following the City's suggestion. Robert Burgess
10/5/2017 Report or Workplan Review - Other DEC received and reviewed the Burn Pit Corrective Action Report. The report documents the removal and disposal of burn pit contents, the removal the structure (liner, concrete perimeter, and sump), removal of adjacent contaminated soil, confirmation sampling of the excavation area, and backfilling and paving. PFAS were detected in elevated concentrations in confirmation samples, including PFOS above cleanup levels in addition to other contaminants. Petroleum contaminants were not detected above cleanup levels. The extent of PFAS contamination in soil has not been delineated. Robert Burgess
2/22/2018 Update or Other Action DEC Contaminated Sites and DEC Drinking Water Programs sent a letter to the City of Fairbanks and Fairbanks International Airport(a separate PFAS plume) informing both parties of the low levels of PFOA and PFOS detected in the Golden Heart Utilities and College Utilities water supply. These levels are not expected to result in adverse health effects, however as qualifying residents in the City of Fairbanks PFAS-impacted area were be hooked up to this utility water, residents should be made aware of these results. Gretchen Caudill
4/26/2018 Workplan Requested DEC sent a letter to the City of Fairbanks requesting to include the 4 additional PFAS compounds sampled in public water systems under the EPA's Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) in sampling and alternative water supply decisions. The letter also included a request for a site characterization work plan for the 2018 field season. Robert Burgess
5/1/2018 Update or Other Action DEC met with the City of Fairbanks to discuss 2018 plans for site characterization and continued sampling of privately owned wells, in addition to the departments request to take action on additional PFAS compounds that do not yet have cleanup levels. Robert Burgess
5/7/2018 Update or Other Action DEC sent a letter to the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) Parks and Recreation department to inform them that two wells at the South Davis Park have concentrations of PFOS that exceed the DEC groundwater cleanup level of 400 ng/L, and therefore use of the well water would be considered a discharge or release under the contaminated site regulations. The wells are used to irrigate soccer and softball fields. Robert Burgess
5/21/2018 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) to discuss and clarify the department's request to discontinue use of the two South Davis Park irrigation wells due to exceedances of the DEC groundwater cleanup level. The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) also participated in the meeting to discuss potential health effects and exposure risks, which they stated were likely minimal because ingestion is the primary driver of risk for PFOS. The Borough requested that the city re-sample the wells that have tested below cleanup levels to ensure that the concentrations have not increased significantly and stated that they have advised the Fairbanks Youth Soccer Association (FYSA) to discontinue use of irrigation wells until risks are better defined. Robert Burgess
7/12/2018 Report or Workplan Review - Other DEC received the Data Report for the FNSB South Davis Park and Hez Ray Sports Complex sampling effort. The purpose of the project was to evaluate whether exposure pathways for users of the field are complete, and the effort consisted of sampling several of the irrigation wells for these complexes in addition to sampling soil around wells that are known to have contamination above applicable levels. Soil results included PFAS detections above the migration to groundwater cleanup levels in soils collected near the wells with highest PFAS concentrations. However, none of the PFAS detected in soils were above human health cleanup levels, indicating that there is not a significant risk to users of the sports complexes. Robert Burgess
8/20/2018 Update or Other Action DEC published a technical memorandum titled "Action Levels for PFAS in Water and Guidance on Sampling Groundwater and Drinking Water," which outlines the requirements for responsible parties to take action to provide drinking water based on a sum of the concentration of 5 PFAS exceeding 0.07 ug/L (=70 ppt) or the concentration of a 6th PFAS, PFBS, at a concentration of 2.0 ug/L (=2,000 ppt). Robert Burgess
10/3/2018 Update or Other Action DEC sent a letter to the City of Fairbanks summarizing the August 20, 2018 technical memorandum entitled "Action Levels for PFAS in Water and Guidance on Sampling Groundwater and Drinking Water" and requesting that the City take action based on the levels outlined in the memo. Robert Burgess
12/5/2018 Meeting or Teleconference Held The DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants to discuss action levels, site status, and ongoing needs including site characterization. The City reported offering bottled water to four properties that exceeded the Sum of 5 action levels at the last sampling event, but stated that they do not intend to connect them to a public water supply at this time. The fire chief also reported that all of the City's AFFF inventory has been changed to modern formulations. DEC noted that modern formulations may contain PFHxS and other PFAS that are included in the Aug. 20 memo. A large portion of the discussion was focused on the need to identify and mitigate releases from privately owned wells that are used for purposes other than drinking water, with DEC stating that the highest priority wells are high volume wells such as those used for large-scale irrigation or cooling wells. Robert Burgess
5/29/2019 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC called the City of Fairbanks Environmental Manager to discuss the current site status. DEC requested a summary of well use for homes and businesses that were connected to public water supplies due to exceedances of action levels or the LHA. Robert Burgess
5/30/2019 Meeting or Teleconference Held DEC met with the City of Fairbanks environmental manager and their consultants to discuss plans for additional site work and current status. The City reports that five properties that exceeded a sum of five PFAS action level were offered bottled water, and that all properties whose wells exceeded the City's threshold (established by ordinance) have been connected to public utilities except for one location that reports not using their well. The City also stated that they plan to contract a consultant for site characterization work and that a request for proposals would be going out soon. Robert Burgess
10/30/2019 Meeting or Teleconference Held The DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants to discuss proposed site characterization plans for the 2020 field season. The City is proposing to install four monitoring well clusters with three wells each, screened at different depths, in order to fill some of the data gaps and better define the vertical extent of the plume. Robert Burgess
2/6/2020 Update or Other Action The DEC sent a letter to the City of Fairbanks providing comments to the March 2018 to February 2019 Summary Report and requesting a long-term site characterization planning document to include a proposed schedule for phases of work. Robert Burgess
3/13/2020 Meeting or Teleconference Held The DEC met with the City of Fairbanks and their consultants to discuss the February 6, 2020 letter and to discuss development of a site characterization work plan. Questions about handling investigation derived waste from the saturated zone were raised. DEC advised to segregate and containerize or stockpile soils from the saturated zone and allowed that on-site treatment of well development and purge water may be acceptable. Robert Burgess
4/6/2020 Update or Other Action Contaminated sites program staff were informed by the Division of Water of an application for dewatering at University Avenue and Rewak drive to allow for the replacement of a sanitary sewer lift station that will be required as part of a road expansion project for University Ave. Due to a lack of data, it is undetermined whether this location is within the PFAS plume as defined by the EPA lifetime health advisory level. The large volumes of water being extracted may have affects on local groundwater flow direction and contaminant distribution. Contaminated Sites Program management is working with the Division of Water management to determine if any additional permit or monitoring requirements may be necessary. Robert Burgess
8/4/2020 Site Characterization Workplan Approved The DEC approved the Groundwater Characterization Work Plan, which describes plans to install four well clusters, each with three wells screened at the water table, 50 feet below ground surface, and 90 feet below ground surface, and sampling of each well for PFAS via EPA method 537.1 (modified). The DEC approval noted that this work plan represents a first phase of groundwater characterization and that additional work will be needed. Robert Burgess
10/8/2020 Site Visit The DEC project manager observed installation of the deep (90 foot) well at the Picket Place well cluster location. The borehole was advanced using a sonic drill rig and cores were recovered in 10 foot increments. The well casing was installed per the work plan, with the screened interval from 85 to 90 feet. Robert Burgess
4/2/2021 Report or Workplan Review - Other DEC reviewed the Initial Groundwater Characterization report for the site. The site documents the installation and sampling of four clusters of monitoring wells. At three of four locations, permafrost was encountered shallower than the planned installation depth of 90 feet below ground surface. Only one well was installed at the FNSB South Davis Park location (cluster MW-2003) at a depth of 20 feet, while two wells were installed at the Washington Drive location (MW-2004) at depths of 20 and 50 feet, and the deepest well at the Stubborn German Court location (MW-2002) was screened at 70 to 75 feet instead of 85 to 90. Sample results for all of the well clusters were generally low, with the Picket Place cluster (MW-2002) showing PFAS detections below action levels at all depths sampled and the shallow well at Davis Park (MW-2003-20) showing very low levels of all PFAS compounds. The report notes that permafrost is likely affecting the direction of groundwater flow and plume movement, and that the plume likely extends beyond the drinking water wells that have provided the majority of data for the site. The DEC sent a letter to the City that responds to the report and its conclusions, requests minor revisions/corrections to the report, and outlines remaining data gaps. Future site characterization efforts should include vertical and horizontal delineation of the PFAS groundwater plume, understanding the effects of permafrost, and general investigation of fate and transport of contaminants in soil and groundwater. Robert Burgess

Contaminant Information

Name Level Description Media Comments

Control Type

Type Details


Description Details
Hazard ID Site Name File Number
23158 Regional Fire Training Center 102.26.161

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