Contaminated site could become parking lot
234 West Main Street, the former natural gas plant, prepares for DEC excavation
The former manufactured natural gas plant on West Main Street in Patchogue contaminated the soil with accumulated coal tar over the years of its operation. As part of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Manufactured Gas Plant Project, this site and others like it will be capped and essentially decontaminated.
The project in Patchogue has a $6.5 million price tag, the responsibility of the DEC.
Excavation will begin at the end of June the earliest, according to a representative from NYSDEC. Equipment is being transported to the currently fenced-off site. Once everything has been moved as well as traffic-safety signage and erosion control being installed, the excavation process will begin.
The DEC has restricted building on the property, and so Village of Patchogue mayor Paul Pontieri said he would like to see a parking lot situated on the plot once the project is complete. National Grid, which is conducting the operations at the site, would need to sign over or lease the property to the village if such were to come to fruition.
“We could make that parking for employees,” Pontieri said, adding that there are roughly 350 employees working on Main Street on any given night, and the lot could potentially hold 250 cars. “If we can take those cars out of the main-core parking lots and put them into a lot like that, I think it would be a home run.”
The DEC outlined the necessity of the cleanup, considering coal tar’s associated volatile organic compounds, which pollute the soil, air and, potentially, groundwater. The tar is denser than water, therefore leading to thorough contamination if it were to reach groundwater.
Four feet will be excavated first, and then the remaining soil will be solidified, affecting soil 23 feet below the surface. The dug-out soil will be transported away for proper disposal. Four feet of clean soil is then dumped on top.
Health and safety precautions are to be put in place to protect workers and nearby residents from site-related contaminants. The remediation area is restricted from the public, and workers are provided an insurance on air-related issues, heat exhaustion and trip/fall hazards.
After the project is complete, National Grid will file a final engineering report, which ensures that environmental safety on-site has been achieved and that future arrangements for the parcel can become a conversation.
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