Lawsuit filed over N. Pole refinery contamination

Posted: Monday, February 01, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A North Pole man has sued the current and former owners of the Flint Hills oil refinery, saying a chemical from the refinery damaged public water supplies.

James West filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Superior Court in Fairbanks against Flint Hills Resources LLC, which has owned the refinery since April 1, 2004, and Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc., which previously owned the plant. The lawsuit contends that sulfolane from the refinery damaged the water supply, posing a risk to health and hurting property values.

Flint Hills spokesman Jeff Cook told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that he could not comment on the case because he had not yet seen it.

The lawsuit lists West both as an individual plaintiff and as a representative of a class of plaintiffs affected by the contamination. The court has not certified the lawsuit as a class action.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said about 55 private wells in North Pole have tested positive for sulfolane. The chemical is used to refine oil into gasoline and bonds easily with water.

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