Coming Clean: Arness Septage Site

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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — The Arness Septage Site in Nikiski is shown here from the air in September 1985. The site was contaminated with thousands of gallons of oil and other industry wastes, but Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation staff think the resulting groundwater contamination has not been properly monitored or defined.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — Drums containing oil industry wastes, such as these photographed at the Arness site in 1985, likely contributed to chlorinated solvent contamination in groundwater near the Arness site. Allegations of political influence and regulatory mismanagement surround the site, which has come to the public light due to its proximity to a proposed monofill site in Nikiski.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — Although oil wastes, such as these pictured in 1985, dumped at the Arness Septage Site in Nikiski were landspread in a mitigation attempt, local fears have grown about what impact those contaminates had on the area’s groundwater. Contaminate levels tested near the site are below clean-up levels, but Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation staff don’t think the plume has been properly defined.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — Although oil wastes, such as these pictured in 1985, dumped at the Arness Septage Site in Nikiski were landspread in a mitigation attempt, local fears have grown about what impact those contaminates had on the area’s groundwater. Contaminate levels tested near the site are below clean-up levels, but Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation staff don’t think the plume has been properly defined.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — Drums containing oil industry wastes, such as these photographed at the Arness site in 1985, likely contributed to chlorinated solvent contamination in groundwater near the Arness site. Allegations of political influence and regulatory mismanagement surround the site, which has come to the public light due to its proximity to a proposed monofill site in Nikiski.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — Drums containing oil industry wastes, such as these photographed at the Arness site in 1985, likely contributed to chlorinated solvent contamination in groundwater near the Arness site. Allegations of political influence and regulatory mismanagement surround the site, which has come to the public light due to its proximity to a proposed monofill site in Nikiski.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — The remaining contaminated soils from the site were spread out under a landfarming process to help deteriorate the wastes naturally. Landfarming is common practice when finances are limited and if the site were found today, it would likely be treated in the same manner. Oil — the bulk of what was at the Arness site — does not spread through the ground as voraciously as chlorinated solvents.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — James Arness examines contamination residing in a pit during attempted remidiation of the Arness Septage Site in June 1989. The site was fully excavated in the summer of 1988, but Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Staff have attempted to install additional groundwater testing wells there for two decades.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — This image shows remnants of the 21 tanks system used at the Arness Septage Site in Nikiski. Dave Brown, the man who dumped thousands of gallons of oil and other industry wastes at the site was never charged with an environmental crime.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — An Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation staffer secures a chain to an unearthed 40-foot pipe used at the Arness Septage Site. The pipe was installed on the land previous to a 1979 permit seeking to expand the facility, including a 21-tank system, to hold petroleum products, drilling muds and other sludge. That permit was not approved, but in the late 1980s, DEC excavated more than 4,200 gallons of oily waste at the site in addition to hundreds of barrels containing various oil industry wastes.
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Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation file photo — Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation project manager Al Kegler is pictured here helping clean up the Arness Septage Site in 1988. Kenai DEC staff suspected Kegler, who died in a 2007 Juneau boating accident, of attempting to manage the site from outside his jurisdiction to financially project the land’s owner James Arness. Local DEC staff also alleged other DEC administrators stopped or complicated normal regulatory compliance on the site.
 

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