Coal tar cleanup to affect Mettowee, Little League

B y Jaime Thomas

In two years, parts of the Granville Little League fields might be a bit wetter.

The Mettowee River will be rerouted to flow through part of the lot in the 2016 season, limiting the amount of playing fields. At least, that’s part of a tentative plan to cleanup coal tar from the area.

More than half a century ago, a former manufactured gas plant (MGP) closed and was eventually torn down in the village of Granville.

Since that time in the late 1940s, coal tar, a byproduct of the plant, has been seeping through soil and groundwater and migrating beneath the former, 10-acre site.

Coal tar was discharged from the plants along with wastewater when they were operating throughout the country and state, and it also leaked into the ground near the sites.

The Department of Environmental Conservation, who is ordering the cleanup of Granville’s site, said there are no health related exposures to these contaminants under current conditions. However, coal tar remnants are in the area subsoil and water.

“…if there are wastes on the surface, or if people dig into waste or contaminated soil and bring it to the surface, exposure through dermal (skin) contact and accidental ingestion can occur. Also, if vegetables are grown in contaminated soil, people may ingest contaminants when they eat the vegetables,” according to the DEC’s website.

“MGP waste can contaminate groundwater. The contamination can then migrate and affect public or private drinking water wells in the area. People can be exposed to contaminants in their water supply by drinking and showering with it,” the website said, though public water supplies are monitored under Department of Health regulations.

The cleanup project aims to prevent future issues and the spread of contamination. It is one of 33 sites under order to remedy and one of an estimated 300 such sites statewide, according to the DEC.

Along the Little League fields, LaRose said he understands the plan to be a rechanneling of the river 40 to 50 feet to the left of where it bends.

He said though the project will impact the fields, it will be beneficial in the end once it is moved back.

“The river will be more friendly to trout habitat; it will minimize the event of flooding. It’s going to be better—we’ll all benefit from it,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate it has to happen, but I have to give kudos to NYSEG—they’re doing this properly.”

At a meeting next Thursday, March 13 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the village offices, officials will go over the details of the coal tar removal and give an overall review of the process.

“I stress that I think everyone should attend; it should be interesting,” LaRose said Monday night.

 

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