BY MICHAEL RICONDA
As per a 1996 agreement with the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Orange & Rockland will complete the last phase of a cleanup project which began at a Gedney Street Property in 2005. The project will aim to rectify over a century of soil pollution left over from gas production processes which left coal tar as a toxic byproduct.
“It started working in 1852,” Orange & Rockland Spokesman Mike Donovan said. “During that time period, nobody had any idea about any of the side effects of coal tar in terms of pollution.”
The property was closed 50 years ago and changed hands twice before Orange & Rockland took responsibility for the cleanup. Though Orange & Rockland is not liable for the coal dump, state law requires local entities with cleanup capabilities to assist with such projects when predecessor companies are unable.
Orange & Rockland completed the first phase of the site’s cleanup from 2005 to 2007 when they excavated two acres of contaminated soil and injected cement to prevent difficult-to-reach contamination from seeping away from the site. New soil was then trucked in to replace the 20,000 pounds lost to the pollution.
The next phase is largely identical, except it will take place both at the Hudson River’s edge and in the river itself. Dredging and replacement will occur as far as 150 feet from the shoreline.
“Our work is going to be done on the slope, down the slope, on the shoreline and into the water,” Donovan said. “We’re going to follow the same kind of approach for the shoreline piece.”
Orange & Rockland has already paid $14.9 million for the first phase and will likely pay $9.8 million for the second. It is estimated that about the same amount of soil will be removed.
The cleanup will take place during regular work hours from 7am-5pm. Most work will take place under a large, tented area to manage fumes. Flaggers will direct traffic when necessary.
This is not the first cleanup overseen by Orange & Rockland. Similar coal sand cleanups have also taken place in Port Jervis and Haverstraw.