Flint Hills Says North Pole Refinery Will Close

Photo Credit: EricaJoy/flickrFlint Hills Resources announced Tuesday that it will close its North Pole refinery, shuttering a major employer in the Fairbanks area and eliminating a local source of gasoline, jet fuel, heating fuel and other petroleum products.

The closure will mean the loss of 81 jobs.

Mike Brose, vice president of Flint Hills Resources Alaska LLC, said the refinery will close because of a difficult refining market and uncertainties over future soil and groundwater cleanup costs that began under the refinery’s former owners, Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc.

“This has been a difficult decision made after a long, thorough and deliberative process,” Brose said in an announcement. “Our company has spent an enormous amount of money and resources addressing soil and groundwater contamination that was caused when Williams owned the refinery and the state of Alaska owned the land underneath it. So far, neither Williams nor the state of Alaska have accepted any responsibility for the cleanup.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the closure is a major blow to the state, “particularly the economies of Fairbanks and North Pole as the refinery paid some of the highest wages in the region.”

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