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Revised Cleanup Plan Approved for Burlington’s Pine Street Canal Superfund Site

Release Date: 04/27/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – April 27, 2009) – EPA is moving forward with modifications to part of the underwater cap at the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site in Burlington, Vermont. A portion of the cap that was installed several years ago will be repaired and improved.

EPA’s planned modification is officially recorded in an “Explanation of Significant Differences” (ESD) document. In 2006, EPA performed a “Five Year Review” of work previously performed at the Burlington site and found that some portions of the cap were leaking oil and coal tar.

The 2003 – 2004 cleanup of the Pine Street Canal has largely been effective in preventing contamination from migrating into the canal, but oily sheens and globules of coal tar have been observed periodically in a 450 foot-long portion of the canal since 2005. Absorbent booms have been placed across the canal as an interim measure to prevent the contamination from entering Lake Champlain.

A manufactured gas plant operated at the Pine Street Canal site from 1895 to 1966. Operations at the plant included disposal of wastes from the gasification process, including coal tars. Manufactured gas wastes were placed in and migrated to the nearby canal, which had been built in the mid-1800’s to serve lumber yards in the area.

A remedy to remove coal tar, excavate contaminated sediments, and place those into a disposal facility to be constructed on site, was proposed by EPA in 1992. Six months later, due to considerable community opposition that proposal was withdrawn. From 1994-1998, additional studies were conducted by companies responsible for the contamination with oversight by the EPA, the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC) and the Pine Street Barge Canal Coordinating Council, a citizen’s advisory group. In 1998, the citizen’s council recommended constructing a cap over contaminated sediments in the canal, and nearby wetlands, in addition to restoring the wetlands so that ecological risks would be addressed. EPA adopted that recommendation in 1998, and the cap currently in place was completed in 2004.

The cap modification will address an ongoing migration of oil and coal tar (referred to as a non-aqueous phase liquid, or NAPL). In areas where the NAPL is seeping out, the cap will be partially replaced and improved with a new cap system that will capture NAPL before it releases into the canal. The NAPL that accumulates will be removed periodically and shipped off site for treatment or disposal at an approved facility. The cap modification work will be undertaken by a group of the “potentially responsible parties,” who agreed to clean up the site in 2000. EPA and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation will oversee the cap modification work.

In accordance with past public involvement in the remedy selection for the Pine Street Canal site, the EPA issued the ESD in draft form for public comment and review. The public comment period on the modifications closed January 27, 2009 and minor adjustments were made to incorporate the comments received.

For more information:

EPA cleanup activities at the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site

The ESD and additional EPA technical reports and documents are available for public review at the following site information repositories:

Fletcher Free Public Library, 235 College Street, Burlington, Vermont
Bailey-Howe Library at the University of Vermont, Burlington.
By appointment at EPA’s record center in Boston, (617-918-1440)

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