An environmental cleanup of a 9-acre site along Broadway west of Interstate 890 has forced National Grid to temporarily relocate some of its city workforce to Glenville.
The site, located at 734-790 Broadway, was once home to a manufactured gas plant that supplied Schenectady homes and businesses with fuel for heating, cooking and lighting. It was built in 1903 by the Mohawk Gas Company and acquired in 1950 by the Niagara Mohawk Power Company, today known as National Grid.
For decades, it has served as National Grid’s only service center for electric and gas operations in Schenectady County. It is used for natural gas distribution and as a depot for staging utility trucks and other equipment, with about 80 employees there.
By the end of June, company officials said 31 electric line employees will be relocated to a leased space within the Glenville Business and Technology Park.
“As part of the remediation work that National Grid is doing at the site we will need to move some employees from the Broadway location for a minimum of three years,” said company spokesman Patrick Stella. “We have chosen the Glenville tech site because of its centralized location to many of the areas served by this location, including Schenectady, Glenville, Niskayuna, Rotterdam, Scotia and Clifton Park.”
Last week, Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle announced that National Grid would invest $1 million to renovate the building that will serve as a temporary dispatch center. It signed a lease with Galesi Group, which owns the 56,000-square-foot warehouse space in the park.
Since the early 1990s, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has identified at least 235 former manufacturing gas plant sites in need of remediation. Most were owned and operated by the state’s eight utility companies.
The Broadway site, in particular, changed hands from Mohawk Gas Company to Schenectady Illuminating Company in 1919, then went to Adirondack Power and Light Company in 1921, the New York Power and Light Company in 1927 and finally Niagara Mohawk in 1950.
“Niagara Mohawk acquired the environmental liabilities of the previous owner along with their assets,” said DEC spokeswoman Lisa King in an email. “Niagara Mohawk was subsequently acquired by National Grid, who is responsible for cleaning up the site.”
The use of coal and petroleum to manufacture gas at the site ended in 1927, when a regional plant in Troy began manufacturing gas for Schenectady residents and businesses. All gas production halted by the 1950s.
During the spring and summer of 1992 a preliminary investigation was performed at the site, which is bounded by Broadway, Weaver Street and two railroad lines. The findings prompted a much larger investigation that lasted nearly two decades.
Coal tar was found along the property and appeared to have migrated under a railroad track west of the site. Other contamination was found in the area of the former gas production facilities and gas holders, and in areas believed to have been the site of tar-covered coal piles.
Schermerhorn Creek was found to have unusually high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are byproducts of fuel burning and can be carcinogenic at certain levels. A March 2008 Record of Decision filed with the state DEC found that the levels were considered toxic only to bottom-dwelling wildlife, but required remediation nonetheless.
Other contaminants found at high levels included cyanide and volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds.
The multimillion-dollar remediation plan will have multiple phases, will kick off this June and is expected to wrap up in 2015.