Village Reviews Toxic Cleanup Plan


The state mandated cleanup of the land under a former manufactured gas plant in Sag Harbor will involve large scale excavation, water treatment and discharge, road closures, demolition, trucking and maybe a few unpleasant odors in the beginning.

On Tuesday, August 5 National Grid – the company that has bought KeySpan and is now responsible for the remediation project – and a representative from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) presented village officials from Sag Harbor and North Haven an overview of the cleanup plan, expected to begin mid-September. Southampton Town Trustees, Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister, the Group for the East End’s Jeremy Samuelson and Southampton Town Board member Anna Throne-Holst were also on hand for the presentation.

The cleanup will be at a Long Island Avenue site once a manufactured gas plant, which also housed the now absent KeySpan Hortonsphere. As the DEC’s Doug MacNeil explained, in 1998 it was categorized by the site as a class two site, or a site that represents a significant threat to human health or the environment and therefore in need of remediation.

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.

The site is polluted with coal tar, a byproduct of manufacturing gas on the site, which occurred from the 1860s through the mid-1900s.

National Grid has taken financial responsibility for cleaning up the toxic material and after the NYSDEC selected a remedy for the toxic waste.

 Trustee and former mayor Ed Deyermond has led the village’s review of the plan, which was put on hold after concerns emerged last year over the dewatering required at the 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. Village officials expressed concern the plan could have a negative effect on the salinity and therefore ecology of the area – concerns which environmental planning consultant Richard Warren said were allayed after further study.

Last week, Deyermond confirmed the cleanup would commence this September, although no major work will begin until after September 22. National Grid and village officials hope the project will be completed by May, but have committed that no work will be done during the summer season.

ENSR consulting engineer Roger Hathaway, on behalf of National Grid, will oversee the plan, which involves removing 10 to 15 feet of soil from the site.

“In the simplest fashion, it’s a hole in the ground,” said Hathaway.

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, although brief. As the groundwater in Sag Harbor is virtually the surface water, explained Hathaway, dewatering will be necessary and a concrete wall will be installed to create an impermeable barrier. 

Dewatering, or removing the water from the soil, will be the next step in the process, before the water is treated in an area likely to take up some of the village parking lot behind Schiavoni’s IGA. The water will then be discharged, via pipe past the breakwater. A 40-foot tent will house the area being excavated and will be moved around the site as needed, explained Hathaway, reducing noise and smells coming from the site.

Forty maximum round trip truck trips per day – including bringing contaminated soil out and clean soil in – are required for the project. The trucks, said Hallaway, will be cleaned before they leave the site to ensure no contaminants enter the roadway.

The village studied trucking routes last July for a number of projects, including the Bulova remediation and KeySpan. The goal was to ensure trucking routes would not be the same for both projects.

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.

Next week, National Grid will announce a public session detailing the plan, to be held in Sag Harbor at the end of the month.