Contaminated Soil, Debris May Be Removed From Former Military Site Next Year

Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg

A contractor for the U.S. Air Force could be removing contaminated soil and debris from a former military communications site in Duncan Canal near Petersburg next summer or fall.

The site was a manned communications station, part of a Cold War-era early warning system called White Alice used to relay radio communications from Clear Air Force base in Alaska to Colorado Springs 50 years ago. It’s on Kupreanof Island, eight miles west of Petersburg.

The Air Force already removed over 100 dumped fuel barrels from that area in 2000, but other fuel drums, demolished buildings, trash and chemical contaminants remain. A contractor working for the Air Force has documented PCBs, fuel, chemicals and heavy metals in the soil and groundwater of that area. The Air Force is proposing a cleanup plan for six different sites in that area, and the effort is estimated to cost more than $7 million.

The Air Force is taking public comment on the cleanup plan until Nov. 26.  Officials plan to make a decision on the work this winter and the cleanup could happen next summer or fall.

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