A former manufactured gas plant (MGP) was located on an approximately 11-acre area in Plattsburgh near the Saranac River from 1896 to 1960. The coal tar by-product of the manufacturing process was pumped into an on-site unlined lagoon for storage.
It was later discovered that the coal tar by-product seeped out of the unlined lagoon into bedrock and the nearby Saranac River.
The removal of coal tar from the banks and riverbed of the Saranac River in Plattsburgh began in 2010 and has been a complicated process. At the beginning of the remediation effort, it was characterized as one of the most technically difficult remediation efforts in the United States. This was due to the difficulty of removing the coal tar from the bed and banks of a river which is known for large volumes of fast-moving water. The project was broken down into several stages and is still underway, but some stages will be completed over the next two summers.
The City of Plattsburgh is planning to construct pedestrian bridges and a bike trail along the shoreline of the former MGP. There is also an ongoing salmon stocking program to increase the number of fish using this valuable habitat.
Photo of river being protected while coal tar is being removed from sediment by Mary Jo Crance.