780 AM | 96.1 FM | “Yours for Western Alaska”

Anvil Mountain Towers to Come Down

Anvil Mountain towers

The summit of Nome’s Anvil Mountain, whose towers are now slated for removal. Photo by Chris Lott (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fncll/38159054/) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

It looks like the Anvil Mountain Towers north of Nome will not remain standing. The Air Force received directives from the Sitnasuak Native Corporation – the entity slated to take ownership of the land – to remove the towers.

Sitnasuak President Chuck Fagerstrom says that on August 14th, the Sitnasuak Board of Directors voted to direct the Air Force to remove the towers from the site. Sitnasuak is to take ownership of the 11 acres through the Alaska Land Transfer Acceleration Act. President Fagerstrom says the board believes the land will be a valuable site for telecommunications and wants a clean site.

The board of directors did not wish to obligate future board of directors to any risk of person injury, lawsuits or financial liabilities.

A letter received in July spurred what Fagerstrom described as a lengthy board discussion and the eventual decision on the towers. The Air Force gave notice to Sitnasuak, saying the work on the Anvil Mountain Towers was not a demolition project. The Air Force had been working this summer to remove the asbestos-laden panels to keep the towers erect – based on public interest that goes back decades.

Fagerstrom said looking at the land as a potential telecommunications site  is in the best interest of Sitnasuak shareholders and says the Sitnasuak Native Corporation has been in communication with the Air Force.

Shortly after the vote was taken, we communicated with their representative. He was in town and we informed him of that vote.

The Anvil Mountain Towers were erected during the Cold War. Seventy-one such White Alice sites were established at that time and by the 1970s, most of the system was deactivated – the technology replaced by satellite communication.

The Air Force demolished and is in the process of cleaning up now contaminated sites throughout Alaska as part of a large remediation project. When the Air Force announced in the late 90s that the towers north of Nome were to be demolished, it was met with large public outcry. The City of Nome had been in communication with Sitnasuak the past few years and into this summer to sign a long-term lease with Sitnasuak to keep the towers intact.

John Handeland is chair of the Nome Museum and Library Commission.

You know there are many of these White Alice sites that were in place around Alaska, but the four towers are all that remain. And they’re an important era in our history, not just of our community, but of our world.

Handeland says he remains optimistic Sitnasuak will allow the City to enter discussions regarding their decision and hopes the vote can be reversed.

Together, in continuing spirit of cooperation, I’m confident that a creative solution can be developed to ensure that Sitnasuak’s concerns and interests are addressed and yet the towers can remain for the people of Nome – as well as the visitors to our community.

Steve Hunt is the Remedial Project Manager for the Anvil Mountain Site and other sites throughout Alaska. Phone calls and emails had not been returned regarding the Air Force’s plan for the towers. The Air Force had planned on completing clean up of the site in September and the land transfer was expected then.