$52 Million Water Utility Project at North Pole Begins

January 2, 2018

The News Miner in Fairbanks, Alaska, reports Exclusive Paving has been awarded a $52.1 million project to expand the water system in North Pole, southeast of Fairbanks, as part of a settlement to correct groundwater damage caused by a sulfolane leak at what was the Williams Alaska Petroleum refinery, now owned by Flint Hills Resources.

The project includes about 35 mile of new pile, a water reservoir and pump station which will tie in residential and business properties in the Flint and North Pole area to the current North Pole water utility.

In 2009, sulfolane began leaking from a oil and gas refinery, creating a toxic plume that is contaminating groundwater and wells in an area stretching more than three miles long and two miles wide.  The sulfolane, a solvent used to make gasoline, is 300 feet deep and continues to migrate north-northwest.

Homeowners and businesses who hook up to the expanded city water system will given a $2,000 credit to help cover the cost of the new water service for the next several years.

The water system expansion settles legal claims against Flint Hills Resources by the state and the city. The settlement caps the project at $100 million. Flint Hills is paying for 80 percent of the utility expansion, while the rest is being paid for by the state, also a previous owner of the refinery.

The court settlement covers the cost of installing service lines, hookups to the system and transitions to the new public water supply.

Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation expects the expansion to be operational by 2020.