Gas Plant Cleanup Expected This Fall


The remediation of the land under a former manufactured gas plant in Sag Harbor will likely commence in September, according to Sag Harbor Trustee Ed Deyermond, following the village’s own environmental review of the clean-up plan. In part, the remediation involves pumping as much as one million gallons of treated, fresh water a day past the breakwater near North Haven.

On Tuesday, August 5 at 1:30 p.m. Sag Harbor Village officials will meet with the North Haven Board of Trustees, the Southampton Town Trustees and members of the village’s Harbor Committee for a run through of the remediation plan. A public meeting, which will be scheduled by KeySpan-National Grid – the utility responsible for the state-mandated remediation – will be held at the end of the month likely at a larger venue than Sag Harbor’s Municipal Building, said Deyermond on Tuesday.

The meeting represents the first solid step forward for the clean up project laid out in a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) record of decision in March 2006. The site under the former KeySpan Hortonsphere, which was removed in April 2006, is located on Bridge Street and Long Island Avenue and is contaminated with hazardous materials including coal tar. It must be remediated according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. KeySpan-National Grid is the utility financially responsible for the remediation.

The site operated as a manufactured gas plant from 1859 to 1930, first producing gas using coal and wood and then switching to a water gas process in 1892. According to the DEC, the by-products of gas production either spilled, leaked or were dumped on the site leading to contamination of the surface soil, subsurface soil, soil vapor and groundwater at the site.

In 1997 the DEC listed the site as a Class 2 site on the registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites in New York, meaning it is a site that poses a significant threat to public health and the environment and was the third state Superfund site in Sag Harbor. The DEC performed a remedial investigation from 2000 to 2004 before releasing their findings in 2006. A remediation based on their decision requires that KeySpan-National Grid excavate an extensive area of soil.

The project was expected to begin in the fall of 2007, but village officials began questioning the impact of dry excavation on Sag Harbor and North Haven ecology as dry excavation would entail, in part, treating and cleaning an expected 500,000 to 1.5 million gallons of water a day, which would then be pumped via pipe past the breakwater near North Haven. The other option would be wet excavation, which would entail removing contaminated fill with the water, which KeySpan-National Grid officials have argued would not only be more costly, but would also lead to even more truck traffic than the project is already is expected to generate.

Regardless, village officials asked KeySpan-National Grid to perform coastal modeling to ensure the ecosystem off Sag Harbor would not be negatively affected by the project. Craig Swanson created the model, and at the advice of Sag Harbor Village planning consultant Richard Warren, Lee Weishar of Woods Hole Group in Massachusetts reviewed the modeling on behalf of the village.

According to Deyermond, Weishar has now signed off on the plan. He added the Peconic Baykeeper has also signed off on the plan, which still needs Harbor Committee approval.

Other issues Deyermond expects to be laid out include discussion about traffic, noise and safety. The project is expected to commence around the third week in September, he said, with the demolition of the Schiavoni building on Long Island Avenue. Diane and Gabe Schiavoni, who envisioned the property as an investment for their grandchildren, worked out a deal earlier this summer with officials from KeySpan-National Grid. They will lease the property to the utility for a one-to-four year period, depending on the length of the remediation. The family purchased the property 30 years ago, and until 2006 it housed popular stores like Harbor Pets – businesses forced to move elsewhere or leave Sag Harbor once it was announced the building would have to be demolished in the clean-up process.

After the building is demolished, the utility will begin to prep the area for excavation and de-watering, fencing and tenting the site for safety, smell and noise purposes, and creating steel ground barricades to ensure ground water does not seep into the site during the remediation, said Deyermond.

Board members will also hear about road closures as a result of the clean-up project, as well as trucking routes and expected truck traffic, said Deyermond. The last traffic study indicated a daily peak of 40 trucks, the average number falling closer to 30, during an estimated 87 days over a four-month period for the excavation. Excavated soil would be removed between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., with clean soil brought in during other times of the day.

 Deyermond said on Tuesday that, unofficially, both village and KeySpan officials hope the project will be completed in about one year, but that no remedial work would be done during the summer season in 2009.

Top: The parcel at the corner of Long Island Avenue and Bridge Street will be subject to a state mandated environmental cleanup starting this fall. Middle: The site was formerly a manufactured gas plant and once held the KeySpan Hortonsphere, which was removed in 2006. Bottom: The Schiavoni’s building on Long Island Avenue will have to be demolished as a result of the cleanup. (kmenu photos)