Utica Street cleanup

Picture above is the site of a former manufactured gas plant on Utica Street in Oswego. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and utility company National Grid are planning an environmental cleanup effort at the site scheduled to start in April. The cleanup would remove contaminated soil and solidify portions of the soil to slow the movement of contaminated groundwater. 

OSWEGO — National Grid is nearing the start of a seven-month cleanup of a former manufactured gas plant site on West Utica Street that has disrupted several local businesses.

National Grid will perform cleanup activities at the 27 W. Utica St. site with oversight from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The approximately $3 million cleanup effort is expected to start in April and last about 7 months, according to the DEC, which is working to remediate more than 200 former manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites throughout the state to protect public health.

“National Grid takes seriously our role in helping to cleanup former MGP sites in our service area,” said National Grid spokesperson Virginia Limmiatis. “Through collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the entire project team, we are committed to cleanup of the site to promote public health and the environment.”

The utility company and DEC entered into what Limmiatis described as a “a multi-site” agreement to perform full remediation at several former MGP sites across New York State, including the Utica Street site in Oswego.

The MGP on West Utica Street operated from approximately the 1850s to the 1930s.

The gas manufacturing process involved the heating of coal or petroleum products to produce a gas mixture, according to DEC, and once cooled and purified the gas was distributed through a local pipeline network. The resulting gas was used for lighting homes and streetlights in the early years, and later for heating and cooking much like natural gas and propane is used.  

The former plant site is located on the north side of West Utica Street between West Third Street and West Fourth Street.

Currently zoned for commercial use, the site is occupied by several small businesses, including an auto repair shop, medical office and dialysis clinic. City Electric formerly occupied a portion of the site before moving to a new location on West First Street.

Limmiatis said National Grid is working with the impacted businesses to make alternate arrangements during the extent of the project.  

Throughout the cleanup, the parking lot will be securely cordoned off, and the nearby businesses are expected to remain open with a valet service provided to transport clients to the medical offices and the dialysis clinic adjacent to the cleanup. The valet service is expected to run between the facilities and the Elim Grace Church on West First Street.

“The clean up work will certainly cause some disruption in the immediate area, but the site will be tightly controlled and we’re taking extra measures to mitigate negative effects for neighboring properties,” said Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow. “We’ll monitor the site once work begins and will be sure to ask for any changes we deem necessary should neighboring properties have issues.”

The DEC in a statement said the agency “rigorously oversees the remediation” of the state’s MGP sites “to ensure that all cleanup activities are completed and public health and the environment are protected.

Environmental investigations of the Utica Street site revealed the presence of coal tar in the “shallow subsurface” of the southern portion of the site, according to DEC. Coal tar contains chemical contaminants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The Utica Street cleanup involves excavating and disposing the top four feet of soil within the existing parking lot. Contaminated soil will be “mixed in place with Portland cement and blast furnace slag” to a depth of 22 feet, according to the DEC, resulting in low permeability soil that slows groundwater flow.

Monitoring wells are planned to allow the DEC to observe and collect coal tar in the groundwater.

The DEC said contaminants were also found in bedrock groundwater south of West Utica Street, and the impacted groundwater would be remediated under a separate plan currently under development.

Officials said businesses located on the actual cleanup have relocated due to what’s expected to be a significant short-term impact on the parking lot. Following the cleanup, National Grid is required to restore the lot with asphalt upon completion of the work.

The DEC announced this week a public information session for the Utica Street MGP site initially scheduled for March 26 has been postponed. DEC officials said they wouldnotify the public when the information session is rescheduled.

Information regarding the project can be found on the DEC website www.dec.ny.gov. Project documents are also available online for public viewing and review.

Questions about the project can be directed to john.spellman@dec.ny.gov and health-related questions pursuant to the project can be sent to beei@health.ny.gov.

(1) comment


The Poor Earth continues to abused by it's captors. Instead of removing the contaminants they're going to pass them on to future generations and make them even harder to correctly dispose of by mixing them with concrete and burying them deep in the water table. The previous generation passed them on to us, they were ignored for 90 years and now we're passing the contaminants on to the next. Don't drink the water; don't breathe the air; don't eat the food.

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