Community dialogue on contaminated sites slated

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Several high-profile contamination sites in the area have caused headaches for residents who have questions about what's being done to clean up the mess. On Thursday, some of those questions finally will be answered when the Kenai Watershed Forum hosts a "community dialogue" to discuss contaminated sites on the central Kenai Peninsula.

The forum came about as a result of residents becoming more vocal on groundwater contamination issues, according to Robert Ruffner, director of the watershed forum.

"There have been a number of questions from the community on how we're dealing with these contaminated sites," Ruffner said Tuesday.

He said the public has been growing increasingly concerned with several sites in particular, including the sites at River Terrace RV Park, the former Sterling Zip Mart, Cook's Corner Tesoro and the former Soldotna Department of Transportation site.

Ruffner said the dialogue will allow residents to speak with officials and environmental specialists from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Geological Survey, National Marine Fisheries Service and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"They're the people who are knowledgeable in their fields," Ruffner said about meeting participants. He said he was hopeful area residents would attend the forum.

"People are very concerned about drinking water and the Kenai River," he said.

He noted the meeting was needed because residents were becoming more adamant in demanding information in recent weeks.

"Our organization has observed that the questions from people have become more conflict-orientated."

He said he hoped the community dialogue would be a way for residents and officials to become more educated on the situation.

"I think it will give people a chance to sit down and talk about a lot of those issues," Ruffner said.

He said the Kenai Watershed Forum was working in conjunction with the Kenai River Center and the Kenai River Sportfishing Association to present the event, which will be from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Kenai River Center. The public is welcome to attend.

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