Public Meeting To Discuss Sag Harbor Toxic Cleanup


A cadre of professionals from a number of state agencies and the utility responsible for the cleanup under the former manufactured gas plant on Bridge Street in Sag Harbor will host a meeting next week geared towards any community members who may have questions or concerns about the planned nine-month remediation project.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is hosting the meeting with the New York State Department of Health (DOH) at Pierson Middle-High School on Wednesday, August 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. Representatives from National Grid, which purchased KeySpan last year and is responsible financially for the cleanup will also be on hand.

The “public availability session” is intended as an opportunity for people to “drop in at any time,” according to a release issued by the DEC, and have one-on-one discussions about the site and proposed cleanup plans.

The clean up project, expected to begin in mid-September, will take place at the Long Island Avenue and Bridge Street site that once housed the KeySpan Hortonsphere – dismantled in 2006.

The site is polluted with coal tar, a byproduct of manufacturing gas on the site, which occurred from 1859 through 1931 when gas production ceased. According to the DEC, the Hortonsphere remained as a gas storage tank through 2006.

KeySpan, like National Grid now, inherited the task of remediating the site from LILCO. It signed a consent order in 1999 with the DEC to investigate and perform the cleanup. The DEC classified the parcel as a class two inactive hazardous waste disposal, meaning it represents a significant threat to human health or the environment and is in need of remediation.

Two years ago the DEC selected a remediation plan after presenting several options to the public, although last year Sag Harbor Village officials halted a planned September 2007 start date after concerns arose over the dewatering required in the chosen remediation plan.

The NYSDEC selected the form of remediation two years ago, although last year village officials put a halt to a planned fall 2007 start date in order to ensure aspects of the plan – namely the pumping of some million gallons of fresh, treated water daily into the waters off Sag Harbor, and truck traffic – would not have a negative effect on the village or water ecology in the area.

In mid-September, the remediation will begin with the demolition of the Schiavoni building on Long Island Avenue. The family has agreed to lease the land to National Grid through the cleanup and afterwards has plans to rebuild on the site.

The cleanup requires the excavation of soil containing coal tar on the site as deep as 10 to 15 feet in order to successfully remove the danger. As groundwater in the area, and in Sag Harbor, is so close to the surface dewatering – or removing water from the contaminated soil – is required before the soil is shipped out of the village and to a DEC approved disposal site. Dewatering the site will entail cleaning and treating water from the contaminated soil before pumping it beyond the breakwater, directly next to North Haven. Sag Harbor village officials expressed concern the plan could have a negative effect on the salinity and therefore ecology of the area, but earlier this month said salinity modeling had allayed their fears.

During the clean up, the DEC has said a number of mitigation plans will be in place to ensure Sag Harbor residents are burdened as little as possible by a massive cleanup that will involve road closures and excavation that may have odors attached to it. Community air monitoring plans have been devised to ensure any potential for air-borne exposure is curtailed, including six air monitors around the site, which will be tented during excavation. Odor control measures, such as using foam and tarps to cover any exposed fill, and a misting system are also planned during the heavy excavation.

The end of Bridge Street, near Long Island Avenue, will be closed from the beginning of the project. Long Island Avenue will also be subject to temporary closures. Forty maximum round trip truck trips per day – including bringing contaminated soil out and clean soil in – are required for the project, although DEC officials have said the trucks will be cleaned before they leave the site to ensure no contaminants enter the roadway. National Grid conducted vibration monitoring and traffic studies, in conjunction with the Village of Sag Harbor, to ensure historic homes were not at risk as a result of the truck traffic.

Two routes to the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike are proposed, including the exit route: Long Island Avenue to Glover Street to Main Street to the Turnpike then onto Montauk Highway; and the entry route: Main Street to Spring Street then entering the site from Bridge Street.

The John Jermain Memorial Library has complete copies of all official documents relating to the site and the cleanup. Information is also available through the DEC, by calling its regional public affair’s office at 444-0350.