West Street cleanup complete

National Grid recently completed an environmental cleanup of the parcel at 27 W. Utica St. The site was formerly a manufactured gas plant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was found to contain coal tar and other contaminants. 

OSWEGO — National Grid’s multi-million dollar cleanup of a contaminated parcel off West Utica Street is complete according to the utility company. 

National Grid started cleanup activities at the 27 W. Utica St. site earlier this year with oversight from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The roughly $3 million cleanup was part of a statewide effort to remediate more than 200 former manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites throughout New York to protect public health.

The regional utility company and DEC entered into what officials described as 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 former MGP on West Utica Street, which is located on the north side of the street between West Third and West Fourth streets, operated from approximately the 1850s to the 1930s.

Fencing surrounding the site was removed on Friday with the cleanup complete, but National Grid officials said the company would be back in May to conduct final site restoration and asphalt paving.

“The Utica Street cleanup project is coming to a close, and I’m glad to have the sites cleaned and opening back up,” Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said in a Tuesday statement. “It was a challenge for the business owners and property owners, and the neighborhood as a whole, but I thank all parties involved for their cooperation and patience.”

Barlow also noted National Grid did a nice job getting in and out of the site quickly with minimal disruption, considering the nature of the work.

“Overall the project is good for the community and I’m glad to see it completed,” the mayor said. “National Grid worked quite well with us throughout the process and I thank them for that.”

The gas manufacturing process at the time 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. 

“National Grid takes seriously our role in helping to cleanup former MGP sites in our service area,” National Grid spokesperson Virginia Limmiatis said earlier this year as the project was getting started. “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 Utica Street cleanup involved excavating and disposing of the top four feet of soil within the existing parking lot. Contaminated soil was then “mixed in place” with cement and blast furnace slag to a depth of 22 feet, according to the DEC, resulting in low permeability soil that slows groundwater flow.

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.

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

The DEC said earlier this year that 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.

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