Parnell defends actions on refinery closure

  • Monday, February 17, 2014 10:57pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell said critics of his administration’s actions in a North Pole oil refinery’s impending closure don’t see behind-the-scenes work that could keep the refinery operating.

Flint Hills Resources announced earlier this month that the refinery would cease gasoline production on May 1 and the production of jet fuel by June 1.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Parnell told the newspaper’s editorial board that the price the state sets for refinery “royalty” oil is under review.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has said the environmental-cleanup issue needs to be resolved, and he called for Parnell to take a “personal interest” in the matter. Former Gov. Frank Murkowski said in a column that Parnell has to act more aggressively.

Parnell defended himself in the editorial-board meeting on Friday.

“Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” Parnell said. “There are a whole host of players who are working diligently to make sure Interior residents get relief.”

He also said his administration negotiated a lower royalty oil price in 2012.

Flint Hills completed its purchase of the refinery in April 2004. In 2009, the industrial chemical sulfolane, a liquid used in refining oil, was discovered to have leached into groundwater beneath the refinery, resulting in a plume about 2.5 miles wide and 3 miles long.

The company was aware of soil contamination but thought it was confined to the ground beneath the refinery. Sulfolane was later detected beyond refinery property, including trace amounts in the city of North Pole’s two wells.

About 300 homes in the area have wells with sulfolane-fouled water, and those residents are being provided with an alternate water source by Flint Hills.

A Flint Hills vice president said the refinery is closing because of a difficult refining market and uncertainties over future soil and groundwater-cleanup costs that began under the refinery’s former owners.

The decision to close the refining operations will cost about 90 jobs.

Parnell said calls have gone out to employers throughout Alaska to find new opportunities for refinery workers who will be losing their jobs.

“I care very much about what’s happening here,” Parnell said. “Our administration is on it.”

More in News

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Most Read