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Residents and Property Owners Information on Groundwater Contamination

Updated: November 28, 2018

Piped Water Extends to Properties Affected by Groundwater Contamination

The City of North Pole’s piped water system is nearing completion, and soon a permanent solution to sulfolane-contaminated drinking water will be established. Community members will be able to connect to the service in 2019 and 2020, phasing out the use of contaminated groundwater wells. DEC considers a public water system to be the best way to provide clean drinking water to those affected by sulfolane in groundwater, now and into the future.

Contaminated Groundwater Advisory

DEC issued a Contaminated Groundwater Advisory in November 2018 to property owners within the North Pole piped water expansion area, where many private water wells contain sulfolane and/or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The advisory assists residents in avoiding unintentional contact with or spreading of contamination. 

While it is known that the spreading of pollution is not allowed under Alaska law, many may not be aware that using untreated, contaminated well water may cause the spread of pollution. Bringing impacted well water to the surface may expose people to the chemicals and/or allow them to spread onto other properties, sloughs, or ponds. In issuing this advisory, DEC is seeking the community’s assistance in minimizing the future spread of these contaminants.

Key points of the advisory include:

  • DEC advises eligible property owners to connect to the expanded water utility service. Connection to this service will protect the owner and anyone else on the property from any health effects that could be caused by exposure to contaminated well water.
  • DEC similarly advises against using untreated, contaminated well water after a property is eligible for connection to the water utility service. Stopping use of untreated, contaminated well water reduces spreading the pollution and eliminates human exposure. 
  • DEC is available to help property owners with the information in this advisory. DEC representatives will be at the December 5, 2018 open house at the North Pole City Council Chambers. You may also call DEC in Fairbanks at 907-451-2143.

This Advisory supersedes the Contaminated Groundwater Notice, dated February 2018. This Notice to the public provided information about areas of contaminated groundwater in and near North Pole, Alaska. The Groundwater Notice was intended to help ensure that the affected community was aware of the contamination and offered appropriate safety precautions. 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, or the FHRA Groundwater Office at 907-488-0723.

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). Disclosure forms are available through the following link on the Alaska Real Estate Commission's website.

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 the Department of Law's website and their publication "The Alaska Landlord & Tenant Act: What it means to you." Note: this law and the supporting document are both subject to change. To request a copy of the booklet, call 907-269-5200 or toll free 888-576-2529. You can also email your request to Consumer Protection.

For more information on sulfolane contaminated groundwater, please contact ADEC’s Contaminated Sites Program at 907-451-2117.

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.

What are the Risks?

The biggest potential risk to the public from sulfolane groundwater contamination is by drinking water contaminated with sulfolane. Since the 2009 discovery of sulfolane in drinking water wells, Flint Hills Resources Alaska (FHRA) has mitigated this risk by providing water or point-of-entry treatment systems to affected homes and businesses with any detections of sulfolane. In addition, bottled water is currently provided to properties in a "buffer zone" outside of the area of sulfolane contamination.

  • If your water is delivered to a tank or if you are connected to city water, you are not at risk of drinking sulfolane contaminated water.
  • If you are being provided bottled water, you are not at risk of drinking contaminated water.
  • If you have a point of entry treatment system provided and maintained by FHRA, your water is safe to drink.

Additional Resources

Fairbanks North Star Borough

DEC's page on Contaminated Real Estate in Alaska

Greater Fairbanks Area Contaminated Groundwater

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