Greater Fairbanks Area Contaminated Groundwater
This Notice to the public provides information about areas of contaminated groundwater in the greater Fairbanks area. Relatively large areas of groundwater contamination are present in North Pole and Moose Creek and smaller areas at Six Mile Richardson Highway and within the City of Fairbanks. See maps of the affected areas.
ADEC provides active monitoring and/or oversight of the responsible party’s actions regarding the groundwater contamination. This Groundwater Notice is intended to help ensure that the affected communities are 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;
- Provide information to help the community understand the contamination and its implications; and
- Protect the communities from exposure to contamination.
To avoid exposure to contamination in the areas covered by this Notice, please contact ADEC prior to installing any water wells or digging excavations that could encounter groundwater. For additional information, please contact ADEC at 907-451-2143.
Spills of oil and other hazardous chemicals from dry cleaners and industrial facilities have resulted in persistent areas of contaminated groundwater. Through the movement of groundwater, contamination may extend to neighboring properties and beyond. Some contaminants, such as the ones covered by this Notice, are expected to remain in the groundwater for many years.
General information about groundwater and contamination is available in these fact sheets:
People can and do live safely in areas where the groundwater is contaminated by natural as well as man-made contamination. Arsenic occurs in many areas around Fairbanks, making well water unsafe to drink. Sulfur, iron, and other elements in the soil can give the groundwater an unpleasant taste. Keys to understanding how to live safely over an area with any contamination include knowing how the chemical can affect you and what you need to do to avoid being exposed to harmful amounts of it.
What are the Risks?
The possible risks from exposure to any particular contaminant vary greatly – depending on the type of contaminant and how you may encounter it. Drinking contaminated well water generally presents the biggest risk associated with groundwater contamination. However, if your water is delivered to a tank or if you are connected to city water, you are not at risk of drinking contaminated water.
With proper management, people can safely live and work on properties overlying groundwater contamination. Common ways in which properties may be impacted are described below, along with measures that can be taken to prevent exposure to the contaminants.
- Well water
- Many properties in the Fairbanks and North Pole areas use wells drilled into the ground to provide water for drinking, cooking, showering, gardening, etc. If your well taps into contaminated groundwater, then your water supply may become contaminated.
- Contaminated well water may be addressed by adding a home treatment system to remove the contamination or using a different source of drinking water, such as water delivery to a tank or connection to city water, if available. In some cases, you may qualify to have a solution provided or subsidized by the responsible party. Inside the City of Fairbanks, buildings located within 250 feet of a water service connection are required by ordinance to connect to the water service. The City of North Pole requires that you apply for a permit prior to drilling a water well.
- Indoor air
- Some contaminants are able to vaporize into air. Buildings constructed above contaminated groundwater can be affected by vapors entering through their foundations. Even at low levels, these intruding vapors can present a risk to people who live or work in the buildings, although it should also be noted that attached garages and storing household chemicals are also common sources of indoor air pollution. If you are concerned about your indoor air quality, please contact ADEC at 451-2143. Indoor air testing may be needed to determine if vapors are present.
- There may be several solutions to indoor air problems. A common solution is to install a system designed to keep gases in the soil from entering the home such as systems used to treat radon. For more information, please see DEC’s vapor intrusion webpage.
- Bringing subsurface contamination above ground
- Digging excavations, washing cars, and watering lawns are ways to bring contamination to the surface and cause exposure. Contamination to nearby soil and streams can occur through runoff.
- Excavations for development and utility maintenance frequently require dewatering to lower the water table in support of the construction activity. Special permit conditions apply for dewatering conducted close to contaminated sites. If dewatering is needed within 1,500 feet of areas covered by this Groundwater Notice, please see the DEC Division of Water's page on Excavation Dewatering for more information.
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). Find disclosure forms.
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:
- Alaska Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act AS 34.03.010 – 34.03.360, and
- The Alaska Department of Law's webpage on Landlord and Tenant Information. On that page you can download a summary of this law and sample notice forms in the publication The Alaska Landlord & Tenant Act: what it means to you. 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.
Already own or want to buy property? If you live on or are considering purchasing property that may be impacted by contaminated groundwater, please contact ADEC’s Contaminated Sites Program at 907-451-2143 for additional information.
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
City of North Pole
Contaminated Sites Program
Water Use and Water Rights
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR), at 907-451-7777, can provide more information on water use and water rights, as they pertain to contaminated groundwater.
Known Areas of Groundwater Contamination
Follow the below links to see maps of the affected areas.
- Gaffney Road
- Wendell Avenue
- Bentley Trust, Tax Lot 201 and 203
- Bentley Trust Mall East Satellite
- Six Mile Richardson Highway
PFAS and Firefighting Foams:
- Eielson Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS)
- City of Fairbanks Regional Fire Training Center
- Fairbanks International Airport (PFAS)
- DEC Advisory Letter and Fact Sheet on AFFF