Schenectady

Schenectady Superfund site remediation to begin; Broadway area was gas plant

The second phase is to involve the housing authority lot
PHOTOGRAPHER:
The second phase is to involve the housing authority lot

SCHENECTADY — Cleanup efforts of a downtown Schenectady Superfund site is expected to begin this month, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced.

National Grid will lead the remediation of a two-acre lot at 375 Broadway that was a manufactured gas plant between 1851 and 1906. Cleanup will occur in two phases at a pair of sites along the Broadway corridor, according to DEC, which is overseeing the effort.

The first phase will begin west of Broadway near the railroad embankment and is expected to take five months, according to DEC. Contaminations from the gas plant were directly disposed of or migrated to the location.

Plans call for removing 7,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and bringing the site back up to grate with clean soil.

The second phase, which involves a site across the street where the plant was originally located, is scheduled to begin in 2024. The site is now a parking lot for the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority.

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The gas plant was operated by a National Grid predecessor and is one of 250 manufactured gas plants to operate across New York in the early 20th century, according to DEC.

“The gas was used for heating and cooking much like natural gas is used today,” according to a DEC fact sheet about the site. “In the early years, the gas was also used for lighting in homes and in streetlights.”

Among the contaminants to be removed is coal tar, which was generated during the manufacturing process and is made up of several chemicals, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, according to DEC.

The chemicals were detected in the soil and groundwater of the contaminated area, but DEC said the health risk is minimal, according to a site description produced by the agency.

“People will not come into contact with contaminated soil unless they dig or disturb soil,” the documents read. “People are not drinking the contaminated groundwater since the area is served by a public water supply that is not affected by this contamination.”

DEC said an odor may be detected during the cleanup process, but noted odors will be monitored throughout the work and an odor-suppressing foam will be used and soil will be covered when not being handled in order to minimized any smells.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

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