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North East focuses on soil contamination

NORTH EAST — Town Engineer Ray Jurkowski was at the Thursday, Jan. 19, Town Board meeting to report on the contaminated soil at the town’s highway garage on South Center Street. According to Ecosystem Strategies Inc., which conducted tests and then drafted the report, the North East Highway Department reported that a gasoline underground storage tank (UST) was removed or closed-in sometime in the late 1980s. Apparently a 1941 map indicates two separate gasoline tanks in the corner of the on-site building, and “no documentation regarding closure of the tanks or soil conditions in the area of the tanks is known to exist,” stated the report.One 275-gallon active fuel above ground storage tank (AST) was confirmed at the southeast side of site, as well as one 300-gallon active waste oil AST on the north side of the site.The report further states:“As reported by Highway Superintendent Robert Stevens on May 9, 2011, one UST located within the vicinity of the 300-gallon active waste oil AST was historically closed-in-place [filled with concrete]. In addition, a fuel oil UST was historically located at the southeast portion [outside] of the on-site building which was removed and disposed of along with the surrounding contaminated soil.”The report also highlights the proximity of the garage site to the local waterways; it is sandwiched between Webatuck Creek to the west and Kelsey Brook to the east.At the Jan. 19 meeting Jurkowski got straight to the point.“Those soils were contaminated,” he said, adding that now the report must go to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for review. He did note that it does not appear as if the contaminated soils have migrated off the garage site — he reached that conclusion after the soils were monitored for one year. That, however, doesn’t mean there’s not still more monitoring to do.“We know exactly what the concentrations [of contamination] are and I want to test [the soil] every quarter to see if the contamination has risen, stays the same or drops,” Jurkowski said. “If it does drop, we can go see the DEC and request to leave everything in place. If it’s found to be migrating, staying the same or rising, then the DEC may require an excavation or some other method of treatment. Right now we recommend the least expensive option, which is monitoring.”The engineer needed authorization from the Town Board to submit the report to the DEC, and asked for the board to make its decision that night if possible. Town Councilman Ralph Fedele supported the idea.“It seems like a good plan,” he said.Councilman Steve Merwin made a motion to submit the report. The board agreed unanimously and the motion passed.

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