Editor's note: The following article has been expanded with clarifying information from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
FAIRBANKS — An Anchorage company will continue cleaning up contaminated soil around an old test well at Umiat on the North Slope.
Marsh Creek LLC has won a $15 million, firm-fixed-price contract with the U.S. Army to clean up the soil at test well No. 9, one of 11 drilled in the 1940s or 1950s at the former Umiat Air Force Station. The site is about 120 miles south of Prudhoe Bay, in the Colville River valley north of the Brooks Range.
The Umiat project covers “excavation, removal, transport and disposal of petroleum contaminated soil from a formerly used defense site,” according to an announcement from the Department of Defense on Tuesday.
However, Tamar Stephens with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in Fairbanks, said the cleanup work is being driven primarily by the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls. The chemicals, suspected carcinogens that concentrate up the food chain, were used in test well No. 9's drilling mud, she said.
Marsh Creek already has worked on the site under previous contracts, Stephens said.
The company is jointly owned by Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. and SolstenXP, according to the company website. KIC was created by the village of Kaktovik, on Barter Island along Alaska’s northeast coast, to accept the land and money offered in the 1971 Native claims settlement act. SolstenXP, formerly Fairweather E&P Services Inc., is an oil field service company with its core business in Alaska.
The work is expected to be done by Jan. 31, 2014.
According to a report prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1997, the U.S. Navy used the Umiat site to explore for oil in what was then the Naval Petroleum Reserve-4 starting in the early 1940s. Eventually, the state of Alaska ended up with ownership of a gravel pad and airstrip covering about 115 acres. Only one test well is on the state's land. The other wells, including test well no. 9, are on land now managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Stephens said.