State proposes ending Gold Creek oil spill cleanup

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- State environmental officials have determined that it would be better to let Mother Nature clean up an estimated 100,000 gallons of spilled jet fuel north of Talkeetna.

The Department of Environmental Conservation, in a proposal being circulated this month for public comment, says the remaining fuel from the Gold Creek spill will naturally degrade over decades.

Testing and computer models show the buried plume of fuel is stable, according to DEC. The agency says further efforts to recover or neutralize it are either impractical or too expensive.

About 120,000 gallons of fuel spilled at the site when an Alaska Railroad train derailed on Dec. 22, 1999. About 15,000 to 20,000 gallons of fuel were recovered in the cleanup that followed.

The railroad has spent about $10 million trying to clean up the spill. DEC wants the railroad to monitor the site to make sure the plume does not move toward the Susitna River, which is about 1,000 feet away from the spill area.

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