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New Ipswich

Contaminated soil  removed from Citgo

  • Construction crews work to remove contaminated soil from the site of the former Citgo gas station on Turnpike Road in New Ipswich.
  • Construction crews work to remove contaminated soil from the site of the former Citgo gas station on Turnpike Road in New Ipswich.
  • Construction crews work to remove contaminated soil from the site of the former Citgo gas station on Turnpike Road in New Ipswich.
  • Construction crews work to remove contaminated soil from the site of the former Citgo gas station on Turnpike Road in New Ipswich.

NEW IPSWICH — On Turnpike Road, where the Citgo gas station once stood, there is now nothing but an empty lot, where the State Department of Environmental Services has removed more than 7,000 tons of contaminated soil that has long been a part of the site. It’s a project that’s expected to cost $500,000 or more.

The Citgo gas station and the land it sat on is currently owned by the Global Montello Group Inc., which will be selling the land after remediation is finished, according to a representative of the company. But first, the site must got through some clean-up, which has been under way the past few weeks, and should be concluded this week, according to DES officials.

Joyce Bledsoe, the project manager for DES’ Oil Remediation and Compliance Bureau said in an interview Friday that the soil underneath the building and the parking lot of the Citgo has been contaminated for a long time. The underground storage tanks in use by the gas station until it’s closing in January were sound when they were removed, said Bledsoe. The contamination likely originated from a leak recorded in 1989, when the site was owned by Alliance Energy of Waltham, Mass. There may have been additional contamination from things like spillage and runoff, Bledsoe added. The site underwent a remediation in 2006, when it was owned by Peterborough Oil, to remove some of the contamination, but the soil under the building and the parking lot, which were removed in mid-July of this year, couldn’t be removed at the time.

With the building being taken down, it was an excellent opportunity to ensure that the site was properly taken care of, said Bledsoe. “Soil excavation is one of the best, most cost-effective ways to remove contamination, and that’s what we did,” said Bledsoe. “With the removal of the gas station, it’s allowed us to get at the contamination under the building and we usually don’t have the opportunity to do that. It’s actually really good news that we were able to get so much of it out.”

The last of the contaminated soil left the site at the end of last week, said Bledsoe, and the restoration of the site to a flat lot will continue this week. The remediation is one of the larger ones that she’s been involved with, said Bledsoe, with approximately 7,400 tons of contaminated soil removed from the site. “This is a larger-scale of projects, as they go. It’s one of the more higher-end in both scope and dollars. It’s a big dig,” she said.

The cost of the remediation is at least $500,000, said Bledsoe. The cost is covered by a state insurance fund, the Petroleum Reimbursement Fund, which was established in the late ’80s.

The fund receives monies through a fee charged to customers while pumping gas, which is determined by the type of fuel pumped. Companies with a potential contamination risk or owners of public or private water supplies apply for reimbursement for contamination cleanup not covered by private insurance, up to $1.5 million. Global Montello Group Inc. has already been granted access to the fund, Bledsoe said.

While the cleanup isn’t finished and there may be additional cost before it’s done, there is no expectation this site will reach anywhere near the cap, Bledsoe said, so the cost should be covered.

The contamination seeped into local groundwater, as the area has a high water table, but did not affect any of the abutters’ wells, said Bledsoe. DES has installed monitoring wells to continue to evaluate the effect on groundwater, which will be tested twice a year.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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