Midnight Sun Elementary

Ryan Lash, a painter with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, hangs letters for Midnight Sun Elementary’s new sign on Sept. 6. The letters showing the school’s former name, Badger Road Elementary, were removed before the start of school in August.

 

The Fairbanks North Star Borough is looking at expanding environmental compliance efforts over the next four years.

Administrators on Thursday will ask the Borough Assembly’s Finance Committee for approval to spend up to $2.4 million on monitoring and cleanup at various contaminated sites.

About a dozen “active” contaminated sites are on land owned by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, according to a list provided by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Janet Smith, deputy director of borough public works, said some of the money will be spent on monitoring and cleanup at the sites, one of which is the Midnight Sun Elementary School, in North Pole, where fuel was discovered in the soil after removal of an underground tank.

“We need to kind of go back in and do some further testing,” Smith said.

Contaminated soil was also discovered at a warehouse on Marika Road in connection with an underground fuel tank removal.

“We need to create a work plan, and the DEC wants us to put in some monitoring wells to make sure that contamination hasn’t migrated,” Smith said.

The money will also be used to deal with other environmental issues as they come up, she said.

“There are unknowns that pop up,” Smith said, citing as an example a fuel spill at the North Pole Middle School ice rink last spring.

The list of contaminated sites includes six schools, the Carlson Center and the borough transit garage on Peger Road.

Smith said the $2.4 million has already been set aside in the borough budget and that the administration is seeking assembly approval to contract with three environmental firms: Nortech lnc., Shannon & Wilson lnc. and Geosyntec Consultants lnc.

The first two companies are based in Fairbanks. Geosyntec is based in Anchorage.

If approved, each company could gain up to $800,000 of work over four years, according to a memorandum to the Borough Assembly.

“The competitive process was conducted in compliance with Title 16,” the memo states. “The above named firms are the highest ranked, responsible, responsive offerors.”

The borough is looking to beef up environmental compliance at the request of the DEC, according to Smith.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.

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