Tainted wells in North Pole spur Alaska officials to issue garden alert

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Monday, December 13, 2010:

The state is preparing to caution gardeners using well water contaminated with sulfolane.

Department of Environmental Conservation project manager Ann Farris said a study last summer shows the chemical contaminates garden plants.

“The bottom line is that sulfolane was in the plants,” Farris sad. “We have already asked Flint Hills (Resources) to be prepared to provide people with water for their gardening until we can get more information on the toxicity or on the uptake of sulfolane in these plants.”

About 200 wells in North Pole and outside the city have water contaminated with sulfolane, an industrial solvent used to refine oil.

A fact sheet detailing the garden study and making recommendations is due in the coming weeks, Farris said.

Flint Hills discovered the groundwater contamination last year. It stretches from the refinery to about three miles northwest of the refinery.