DEC investigation to take place in city



OBSERVER Staff Writer

More Department of Conservation work will be beginning in the city. Work will begin on remediation at a former manufactured gas plant located on Second Street.

National Fuel Distribution Corporation will begin a remedial investigation on the site later this month. The investigation will be performed by National Fuel in accordance with state DEC requirements. The state Department of Health will also oversee the investigation as well.

“The Dunkirk Former Manufactured Gas Plant site is subject to an order on consent, a legal agreement between DEC and National Fuel, for investigation and any required cleanup. Under the terms of the order, National Fuel is proceeding with a remedial investigation at the site,” Kristen Davidson, public affairs for state DEC, said.

The work will be completed at 31 W. Second St. at National Grid’s service center. The site was a former manufactured gas plant using coal carbonization that operated from the late 1860s to 1910. The site included three gas holders, a retort house, a purifier house, a coal shed and an oil tank, according to Davidson.

The gas was made during the process of coal carbonization, which volatile gases are generated from heating coal in the absence of oxygen. As a byproduct the process produced coal tar, an oily waste material containing benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The investigation is a continuation from a 2010 The investigation is a continuation from a 2010 site characterization done by the state DEC to determine if there were any contaminants from the former plant. The soils beneath the site are largely silt and not highly permeable. It is likely contamination is minimal, but this testing will confirm that. The 2010 study found there was some contamination in the northeast corner of the property that was slowly dissolving into ground water.

“The investigation, which is planned to start by the end of March, will begin with a soil vapor intrusion evaluation followed by sampling of any underground structures, soil and groundwater to delineate the extent of any contamination attributable to the (former plant),” Davidson said.

During the work, drilling, taking samples and monitoring wells will be conducted. Following the remedial investigation, the public will be able to view the results as a report. From the findings in this report, a feasibility study will then be conducted. This study will determine the extent of cleanup work that will be completed on the site, if necessary.

“The results of this investigation will be used to determine whether any cleanup action is needed. If so, various alternatives will be evaluated and a preferred approach will be presented. The public will be kept informed throughout the process,” Davidson said.

If cleanup work is necessary, a proposed remedial action plan will be proposed by DEC. This plan will be presented to the public and will have a 30-day public comment period and a public meeting will be held. Project documents, including plans for the remedial investigation can be found online at

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