RFTC Water Contamination Update

DATE: November 29, 2017

MEDIA CONTACT: Teal Soden, Communications Director, 907-987-0867, tsoden@fairbanks.us

 The City of Fairbanks would like to provide an update regarding the City’s response to date on the Regional Fire Training Center (RFTC) water contamination.

After Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were first discovered at the City of Fairbanks Regional Fire Training Center in 2015, the City took immediate steps to sample water in the surrounding areas to ascertain the scope of the contamination and provide free delivery of clean drinking water for residents with contaminated water samples. The fire pit at the RFTC was excavated and the contaminated soil was removed after the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation approved the work plans. The City has worked closely with the State of Alaska Division of Spill Prevention throughout the entire clean-up process.

Since the contamination was first discovered, 157 wells have been tested. All residents with properties tested were sent the results of their water samples along with fact sheets on PFCs. 44 households and businesses were identified as having above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lifetime health advisory levels in their water supply wells. As of October of 2017, all of these properties have been connected to the municipal water system. The City Engineering Department has held several community meetings since 2015 to answer questions and provide information to residents in the contaminated area.

In September, Fairbanks City Council passed Ordinance 6060 which provides a stipend of $2,500 to assist with the payment of water bills on those 44 properties. The Ordinance also gives a stricter threshold than the EPA standard of contamination necessary for residents to be connected to municipal water. Going forward, the City will continue to take samples and more residents in the affected area will be connected if they meet the lower threshold set by Ordinance 6060.

The City has covered the expense of the contamination clean-up and water connections for residents, a cost of just over three-million dollars. However, the fire suppressant foam that caused the contamination was used by several other agencies that used the RFTC from the mid-1980s until 2004. The City is currently exploring contribution from potentially responsible parties.

The City remains committed to providing up-to-date information on this issue.  More information on the Fire Training Center water contamination can be found at http://www.fairbanksalaska.us/rftc-groundwater-contamination/.  Residents can also contact the City’s Environmental Manager, Andrew Ackerman, at aackerman@fairbanks.us or 907-459-6836.