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Refinery owner loses water cleanup legal challenge

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm •  Published: July 19, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A North Pole refinery owner has lost its latest challenge in a long-running attempt to get a petroleum company to pay for groundwater contamination that contributed to the refinery's closure.

Flint Hills Resources Alaska cannot pursue damages against the former owner of its North Pole refinery, Williams Alaska Petroleum, a Superior Court judge has ruled.

In November 2013, Judge Michael P. McConahy determined that the statute of limitations had expired by the time Flint Hills had filed its lawsuit. He made the same ruling this month.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports ( ) that the company wants to pursue damages against Williams for spilling the industrial chemical sulfolane at the site before Flint Hills purchased the refinery in 2004.

Flint Hills was aware of soil contamination, but the company said it thought it was confined to the ground beneath the refinery.

Instead, sulfolane has since been detected in a 3-mile long groundwater plume near the refinery, leaving Flint Hills responsible for providing clean water to about 550 homes and businesses in the area.

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