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Associated Press 

Petroleum cleanup guidelines update eyed by state regulators

The DEC met in November to discuss an overhaul based on newer info


(AP) Alaska officials are working to revise decades-old protocols to be used in the event of petroleum-based spills.

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation met in November to discuss an overhaul of the agency's regulations for cleaning up petroleum spills, KTOO-FM reported.

The department is taking public comments on the issue until mid-January.

Sally Schlichting, who handles policy and regulation for contaminated sites for the DEC, said the update is long overdue. The last time petroleum guidelines were updated was in 1999.

Schlichting said her department wants to update the cleanup levels to reflect more current science on the toxicity of petroleum.

"For example, in our groundwater, our cleanup levels, in the past, had not accounted for the risks to children from consuming and being in contact with that groundwater that's contaminated," Schlichting said.

It's not clear what the new regulations will look like, but Schlichting said it's likely that the cleanup levels for some things, like diesel and gasoline, will probably become more stringent.

At least one Palmer resident said he plans to comment. Ralph Hulbert said in the past he's clashed with state regulators because their complex calculations required for petroleum cleanup in soil and groundwater don't factor in what it takes to respond to a spill.

"They do not like to consider the risks of these responses and what you have to do to clean it up," Hulbert said.

Hulbert said some of the cleanup methods cause risks that are worse than what a spill could ever have caused. He said he also doesn't think the state does enough to ensure that cleanup costs are reasonable for homeowners and companies responsible for them.


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