The House Finance Committee got an earful from Wrangell residents yesterday. Community members asked the committee for funds to ship lead-contaminated soil off the island. This comes after Gov. Bill Walker made two personal requests for that money from the state’s general funds.
In its amended state budget, the Senate proposed $2.5 million to ship tons of lead-contaminated soil off of Wrangell Island.
Wrangell constituents Jamie Roberts, Angie Flickinger, Esther Ashton and Kim Wickman plead for the extra funding to maintain the integrity of Pat’s Creek, which is located near the proposed dumpsite.
Brett Woodbury of Wrangell testified against the additional funding. He has been hired by the state for some of the preliminary site work. He says the off-island option would cut into local contractors’ business.
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation officials answered the committees questions. They said while the on-island site is environmentally safe, it is not the preferred option of the community.
The state is responsible for cleaning up the old Byford Junkyard, where 18,000 cubic yards of lead-contaminated soil sit. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has planned to dump the soil in a rockpit near Pat’s Creek. Many in the community of Wrangell have spoken out about the proposed dumpsite because it’s .2 mile away from a recreation area and fishing stream.
If approved, the funds allocated by the legislature would go towards shipping that waste down south rather than on the island.
But the Senate needs to approve that proposed allocation, and the House would need to pass a matching $2.5 million to make a complete off-island option feasible, according to ADEC officials.
Final decisions on the matter should wrap up by the end of the legislative session next Tuesday.
Testimony from Wrangell community members. Vivian Mork (in Sitka), Brett Woodbury, Jamie Roberts, Kim Wickman (WCA), Esther Ashton (WCA), Angie Flickinger.