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National Grid Cleanup Wraps Up In Time for Season

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Despite a winter that posed a number of problems – freezing pipes, causing flooding in some areas and even wind that ripped part of a 115-ton fabric tent – by next weekend National Grid officials hope to have completed a nine-month remediation of coal tar at the Long Island Avenue, Sag Harbor parcel that once housed a manufactured gas plant.

In addition to finishing an ambitious cleanup project, once anticipated to take almost two years, village officials are hopeful the completion of the remediation will also allow them to enter into a six-month agreement with National Grid where the village will be able to use the National Grid site for village parking.

On Wednesday, Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris said he was hopeful an arrangement would be finalized with National Grid for the use of the site by next week. If a deal is reached, after six-months the village would need to begin discussions with the utility for any long-term use of the property, he added.

On Wednesday, with a bulldozer preparing Bridge Street to be re-paved, new fencing being erected around part of the property owned by Diane and Gabe Schiavoni, gravel being laid throughout the site and crews getting ready to remove the last remnants of a water treatment area that has monopolized one of the village parking lots behind Main Street, project manager Ted Leissing said it was his hope the project would be completed by May 28. According to construction manager Tom Shock, the village parking lot that once housed the water treatment facility should be clear for this holiday weekend, and the utility intends to repave the whole lot, add new curbing and beautify the area with trees sometime next week.

Since mid-September, National Grid has been engaged in the excavation of soil contaminated with coal tar that sat under the now-removed KeySpan Hortonsphere for what may have been decades. Due to Sag Harbor’s high water table, the project required dewatering – the removal of water from the toxic soil – before the contaminated fill could be trucked to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) approved sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The removed water was treated in a facility that loomed over the backs of stores on Main Street, and pumped via pipeline past the breakwater near North Haven.

In order to minimize odor, dust and construction noise, National Grid officials erected a tent on the site, pivoting it six times to cover each portion of the property that required excavation.

According to construction manager Tom Shock, 36,449 tons of manufactured-gas-plant-impacted soil was removed during the nine-month cleanup in 1485 trucks. An army of 1268 trucks brought 31,668 tons of clean fill back onto the property, with 170 additional trucks carting in 4339 tons of bluestone gravel, which will blanket the site once the project is completed. An estimated 15,641,385 gallons of water was treated and cleaned on-site before being pumped past the breakwater.

On Wednesday, Leissing said crews were putting the finishing touches on a project that was not without its share of challenges – challenges difficult to tackle in such a short period of time.

“We had huge challenges with weather in particular,” said Leissing, noting freezing temperatures and precipitation led to frozen lines and flooding on the Bridge Street side of the property. Last week’s seemingly endless bouts of rain fortunately occurred before the water treatment facility was dismantled, said Leissing, allowing crews to funnel rainwater flooding the area through the plant. Because the pipeline to the breakwater had already been removed, however, additional trucks were required to cart the water out of the village. Leissing also credited the work of Sevenson Environmental, which led remediation on the site, and construction managers AECOM for finding solutions for each challenge.

Ultimately, said Leissing, while Sag Harbor officials may have challenged National Grid, requiring almost an additional year of research before it would allow the remediation to commence, it was the relationship between the utility and the village that moved things along so smoothly.

“The relationship was nothing but highly professional on all sides,” said Sag Harbor Trustee Ed Deyermond, who led the project for the village. “Sometimes it was an overwhelming job, but the property has been remediated. This was an important project for the village to complete and a hard project to get done in such a compressed timeframe. The thing I was most impressed with was just working with this group. They are hard working and dedicated, from the top to the bottom.”

On Wednesday, Ferraris said the village owed Deyermond for the time and effort it took to accomplish the project before the summer season began.

“It was out of the headlines, which meant it went pretty smoothly,” said Ferraris. “Ed should not be overlooked. He really made the difference that allowed us to facilitate this project in a nine-month period of time.”

After May 28, National Grid will continue to have a presence in the village, said Leissing. While the NYSDEC will work with the utility to develop a long-term management plan for the site, Leissing said groundwater testing would be ongoing. According to Ferraris, Leissing will make a presentation to the village board at its June meeting.