Sites of concern

Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2002

Six Kenai Peninsula contaminated sites were described at Thursday's contaminated sites forum at the Soldotna Sports Center.

The following is a brief rundown of what contamination problems exist, and what direction -- if any -- the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is taking on cleanup efforts:

Sterling Zip Mart: Last year, it was discovered that as much as 100,000 gallons of petroleum may have been spilled at the former gas station on Swanson River Road in Sterling. Currently, DEC is working to recover free product, testing drinking water wells and determining a course for further action.

Cook's Corner Tesoro: Identified in 1989, the DEC has spent more than $1 million to clean the spill, which resulted from a leak in an underground storage tank.

DEC continues to monitor the area, although further cleanup efforts are not planned at this time. It's the DEC's position that contamination is not spreading from the site, and contamination does not pose a threat to the Kenai River or nearby drinking water wells. However, DEC officials have said they would not be averse to sediment testing in the river itself.

Sterling Highway Mile 52 tanker truck spill: A tanker truck hauling gasoline and diesel fuel overturned into a small pond in October 2001. Approximately 9,000 gallons were spilled into the pond, which is connected to the Kenai River by a culvert.

To date, nearly all of the fuel has been accounted for, and remediation efforts are ongoing and nearly complete. DEC believes this site may reach closure in the near future.

Soldotna River Terrace Laundromat: In 1992, leaking barrels led DEC to identify the existence of perchloroethelyne, a toxic dry-cleaning solvent, as well as petroleum and other substances. In 1997, cleanup of the site began, and 3,300 cubic yards of contaminated soil were treated. The DEC has treated the remaining soils by introducing hydrogen- releasing compounds, which stimulate bacteria that naturally break down harmful substances. Breakdown of contamination is not complete, and DEC will likely take further steps to speed the remediation process. Groundwater monitoring continues, and the DEC considers this a high priority site. To date, DEC has spent in excess of $3 million on the cleanup effort.

Former Soldotna DOT station: Used as a shop by the Alaska Department of Transportation for several decades, contamination from chemicals and petroleum was identified, remediation work was done and DEC monitoring of the site continues.

The city of Soldotna has the option of taking over ownership of the site from the state, although questions remain about the level of dissolved metals in the soil, and the city has not yet decided if it will accept the property.

Soldotna Coastal Drilling site: Used in the 1950s as a site to deposit drilling muds and other contamination, no cleanup work has been done at this site, although high levels of contamination are known to exist on the property.

However, contamination has not been shown to be spreading off the site. Because it would be extremely costly to remove the contamination, DEC has no plans for the site beyond monitoring surrounding properties.

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