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More answers on drilling waste site needed

Posted: July 13, 2012 - 8:16am

News that AIMM Technologies will indeed host a meeting to provide residents with more information about its proposal to construct a drilling waste monofill in Nikiski is encouraging.

Many Nikiski residents have questions about AIMM's intentions, its plans and about the proposal in general. The idea -- a monofill designed to hold 15,000 tons per year of drilling waste and 1,000 tons per year of nonhazardous hydrocarbon contaminated soil -- is at the intersection of an expanding oil and gas industry and a growing community without zoning regulations.

While we are hesitant to say who might be right or wrong in this case, we do feel the issue needs to be talked about more. This is a forever proposal. It's more than just a formality for residents to comment on the idea -- local voices must shape the fate.

AIMM should also seek to be as open and transparent as possible on the project as well, not just with media, but also with residents.

However, in order to facilitate the discussion, especially as the state considers whether or not to issue AIMM the permit it requested, we would submit these questions to be answered by AIMM and mulled by the community.

* Why did AIMM specifically decide on this location?

* What would be the risk to land resources and groundwater supply if the monofill were to rupture?

* How would a spill or rupture of the fill be cleaned up, and by who?

* Just what contaminates will be in the waste deposited at the site and where will they be coming from?

* Has AIMM studied or is concerned with nearby contamination at the Arness septage site?

* If built, would the monofill indeed change the area's groundwater flow, possibly exacerbating the largely unknown contaminates headed for groundwater from the Arness site?

* Has AIMM done similar projects?

We have heard from at least one Nikiski resident that some locals with opinions might be intimidated to speak out because of their employment within the oil industry. However, it is important for those residents, and all the area's residents, to speak their minds. We need to encourage [filtered word] discourse on this matter and to separate the area's large reliance on the oil industry from its residents planning its future.

AIMM will host the meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center, located at Mile 23.4 of the Kenai Spur Highway. We'd encourage those folks on both sides of the issue to attend.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation will include written comments in the record if received before 5 p.m. on Aug. 10. Write: Nathaniel Emery, ADEC, Solid Waste Program, 555 Cordova Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501; by fax to 269-7600; or email to nathaniel.emery@alaska.gov.

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