Agrees To Clean Up Old Gas Plant Sites
by the NYS Department
of Environmental Conservation
New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced
the agency has reached an agreement with Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation
for the investigation and remediation of 24 former manufactured gas plant
(MGP) sites within the company's distribution area. [Two of the sites are
in Oswego County see list below.]
Under a Voluntary Cleanup Order signed January 25, 2002, Niagara
Mohawk will characterize contamination at each site, and if necessary, develop
and implement a comprehensive investigation and cleanup at impacted
"Under Governor Pataki's leadership, we have made significant progress
in cleaning up contaminated sites across the State, ensuring that public health
and the environment are fully protected," DEC Commissioner Crotty said. "We
are pleased to enter into an agreement where Niagara Mohawk will investigate
former manufactured gas plant sites and clean up hazardous substances
related to plant operations."
Manufactured gas plants operated in many cities and towns across
New York, primarily during the 1850s to 1950s. The plants converted coal,
or a combination of coal, oil and water, into a gas product used for
lighting and heating. There were more than 250 MGPs in New York State, and
an estimated 3,000 in the United States, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.
The plants became obsolete when infrastructure improvements made natural
gas readily available.
Niagara Mohawk is one of the first New York State utilities to agree to
comprehensively address MGP sites under a multi-MGP Voluntary Cleanup
Order with DEC. Nearly all of the 24 MGPs included under the Voluntary
Cleanup Order ceased operations more than 50 years ago, with eight sites
having been closed for more than 100 years. At one time, Niagara Mohawk is
alleged to have either owned or operated the 24 sites.
James B. Howe, regional manager, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, said,
"Niagara Mohawk is committed to protecting and improving the upstate New York
environment. We are proud of our track record over the past decade in addressing
the MGP problems we inherited and of our strong, professional working relationship
with the DEC and the broad environmental community."
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said, "I am pleased that the DEC
and Niagara Mohawk have come to an agreement to make sure these former sites
are free from substances that may be dangerous to the public. This is yet
another example of New York's strong commitment to cleaning up our environment."
Senator Carl L. Marcellino, Chairman of the New York State Senate Environmental
Conservation Committee, said, "The cleanup of these coal gasification
sites is an important undertaking and will remove hazardous substances from
many intercity locations across the State. Niagara Mohawk should be commended
for addressing this issue and working with the DEC to get these sites remediated.
This kind of Brownfield's redevelopment is an important part of smart growth
and the revitalization of the State's urban areas."
Aaron Mair, Sierra Club - Atlantic Chapter chair, said, "Sierra Club commends
the efforts of DEC and Niagara Mohawk to investigate and remediate contamination
stemming from historic manufactured gas operations. Waste generated
by these facilities does have the potential to be very hazardous to human
health and environmental quality. We look forward to reviewing the results
of investigations and proposed remedial action plans and we offer our commitment
to provide any assistance we can to ensure that cleanups carried out under
the voluntary agreement are safe and effective."
The potential wastes and substances of concern at the former MGP sites
may include coal, ash, cinders, coal tars, coal tar-related liquids and sludges,
and gas purification wastes. Such materials may contain various organic
and/or inorganic chemicals that are classified as hazardous substances or
potentially regulated solid waste under State and Federal laws.
In 1992, DEC and Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation executed two consent
orders to perform site investigations and, if necessary, remediation activities
at 22 other MGP sites. The corporation also has been addressing MGP sites
in Amsterdam, Fulton County, and the City of Oneida, Madison County, under
Voluntary Cleanup Agreements with DEC and sites in Saratoga Springs,
Saratoga County, and the City of Hudson, Columbia County, under consent orders
with DEC and/or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Under DEC's MGP program, investigations and/or remedial work has been undertaken
at more than 70 sites in the State