DEC announces cleanup to begin at former manufactured gas plant site on Engine Street in Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the first phase of the cleanup of contamination related to historic operations at the former Niagara Mohawk Watertown Engine Street Former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) is set to begin next month.

A comprehensive cleanup plan developed for the site, currently owned by National Grid, will be implemented in three phases.

The cost of the entire cleanup is approximately $18 million.

The first phase will address areas east of the CSX-owned railroad right-of-way and south of the city of Watertown’s sanitary sewer utility easement.

Under terms of an Order on Consent between National Grid and DEC, activities to achieve cleanup levels that protect public health and the environment will be performed by National Grid under strict DEC oversight.

Key components of the initial phase of the cleanup effort include:
• Installation of a subsurface perimeter soil/cement mix wall to provide support for the excavation of soil to depths
extending to the bedrock surface;
• Excavation and off-site disposal of MGP-contaminated soil;
• Cleaning tar from the bedrock surface and fractures;
• Importing clean material and/or re-using excavated soils that meet established criteria for use as backfill; and
• Installing a cover system on-site consisting of a demarcation layer and one foot of crushed stone.

The primary contaminants of concern at the site, as well as some adjacent areas, include coal tar and related volatile organic compounds (VOCs), specifically benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes; select polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); and cyanide. DEC, in close consultation with the State Department of Health (DOH) have thoroughly evaluated the potential for exposures related to soil vapor intrusion in three buildings north and northeast of the site and determined that no threats to public health exist and no additional action is needed to address this potential
exposure pathway.

A site-specific Health and Safety Plan and a Community Air Monitoring Plan will be implemented during cleanup activities to protect on-site workers and residents. Actions include required air monitoring, as well as dust and odor suppression.

Phase 2 of the cleanup plan is anticipated to start in spring of 2020 and will target contamination in areas east of the CSX-owned railroad right-of-way and north of and including the city of Watertown’s sanitary sewer easement. Parcels west of the CSX-owned railroad easement, including an area located on the Verizon-owned property and areas along the edge of the Black River, will be addressed in Phase 3, which is anticipated to start in 2021. NYSDEC will keep the public informed throughout the various phases of site cleanup.

Once cleanup activities are completed, National Grid will prepare a Final Engineering Report to detail the cleanup activities completed and certify that cleanup requirements have been or will be achieved. Additionally, institutional controls in the form of an environmental easement will be imposed and a Site Management Plan implemented that describes the
post-remedial action monitoring to be performed.

For more information about New York’s Manufactured Gas Plant Program, visit: DEC recently issued a fact sheet and additional site details, including environmental and health assessment summaries, are available on DEC’s Environmental Site Remediation Database by entering the Site ID, 623011 at:

Project-related documents are available at the following locations to further help the public stay informed:

Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library
229 Washington Street
Watertown, NY 13601
(315) 785-7705

Project-related questions can be directed to:
Daniel Lanners, P.E., Project Manager
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7014
(518) 402-9662

Health-related questions can be directed to:
Gregory Rys
Herkimer District Office
5665 State Route 5
Herkimer, NY 13350-9721
(315) 619-3194