Officials in Fairbanks and North Pole are assessing the effects the recently announced Flint Hills closure will have on the Interior.
Roughly 80 workers with the Refinery in North Pole will be affected by the sudden shutdown.
The city of North Pole is amongst the many who are trying to figure out where the pieces will fall after Tuesday's announcement by Flint Hills that it would cease oil production, laying off the majority of its workers.
North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward says, "They let us know a little bit before the announcement went public but not a whole lot more notice before that. I was definitely troubled, concerned not only for the employees there affected but also for the city of North Pole and our surrounding community. Flint Hills is a huge part of that economically and so it's definitely a concern."
North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward says Flint Hills Resources accounts from approximately one-third of the city property tax base, "As an economic mover if you will, for this city of North Pole, those are the folks that are shopping at the stores, going to get something to eat at McDonald's or Wendy's and there definitely is going to be some sort of an impact, we're still trying to quantify what that is."
Like many others who are affected by the closure, the City of North Pole is just trying to figure it all out, “The first thing we're trying to do is quantify what kind of an impact this is going to have both to our tax rolls, population, economy, those type of things so before we really go out and start doing anything we have to make sure that we identify what kind of an impact we're actually looking at so we're still going through that process and it'll take us a little while to be able to figure out those numbers but we are working on that."
Another concern for many is the Sulfolane contamination problem that dates back to 2009 which Ward addressed saying, "The city of North Pole, we've been very fortunate that most of our citizens have been hooked up to our utility system so we have a certified public source of water that is going to all those folks. The long term of system liability for what is out there I think is a concern. But as far as the city's take on it, our citizens are drinking clean water and we're happy about that."