Many of the central Kenai Peninsula's messiest issues will be discussed Thursday night at the Soldotna Sports Center, when several state and local groups come together for a forum on contaminated sites in the area.
The purpose of the meeting is to build dialogue between the public and the state Department of Environmental Conservation on how environmental issues are being addressed in the area, according to Robert Ruffner, director of the Kenai Watershed Forum.
In particular, Ruffner said DEC will try to update the public on exactly what's happening at six major contamination sites in the area.
"They're the ones who are going to make the presentations," Ruffner said of DEC. "We've asked them to provide an overview on each of these six sites."
The sites the forum will mainly concentrate on are the Sterling Highway Mile 52 spill, near Cooper Landing; the former Sterling Zip Mart; Cook's Corner Tesoro in Sterling; the old Coastal Drilling site in Soldotna; the former state Department of Transportation site in Soldotna; and the Soldotna River Terrace RV Park.
Jim Frechione, site remediation section manager of the DEC's contaminated sites remediation program, will make a presentation on how the department has dealt with the various sites in the past and what it plans for future cleanup work.
Frechione said Tuesday the meeting should give area residents a good idea how DEC's work is proceeding.
"I'd like to go through an explanation of the cleanup process at several sites," Frechione said. "Just to go through and give people an idea what the process is."
The Thursday forum will be the third such meeting in the area since May.
In the past year, concerns about the potential for harm to the Kenai River have risen in both public and private circles, and the Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory board has sent several letters to DEC requesting more information on the status of the peninsula's various contaminated sites, especially those near the river.
Ruffner said at the first two meetings, the issues were identified and a strategy for getting information out was established. Now the goal is to move forward and make sure contaminated areas are being treated with the proper level of concern.
He said the meeting will focus both on information from DEC, as well as feedback from interested members of the public.
"It will be both," he said.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. and is expected to last until 9 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.
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