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GRANVILLE — Matt Hicks can’t wait to watch the Mettawee River be moved.

The town supervisor said the cleanup of the state Superfund site, about a quarter-mile from downtown, became very real in the last few months as crews have mobilized and built what looks like a miniature dewatering plant.

Later this summer the cleanup will include the diversion of about 700 feet of the river to the outfield of the Granville Little League field. The riverbed will be cleaned and then moved back into place.

‘It just seems like an amazing endeavor to me,” Hicks said.

He anticipates the whole community will come down to the site to watch the river change course, which the state Department of Environmental Conservation said will likely happen after Little League season ends sometime in mid-July.

The cleanup, overall, will remove coal tar that polluted the former gas manufacturing site from 1898 to 1946. Coal tar is a known human carcinogen, according to the National Toxicology Program, a division of the National Institute of Health.

The original owners of the property were Granville Electric and Gas Co., then Eastern New York Electric and Gas Co. and finally New York State Electric and Gas Corp.

NYSEG is responsible for the approximately $19 million cleanup.

The DEC issued its record of decision on the inactive hazardous waste disposal site in 2014, and following years of public comment and meetings, work is underway.

A wire gate lined with fabric currently surrounds the site, which is in between the Little League field and the Slate Valley Rail Trail.

Peeking through one of the flaps in the fabric on April 9, Hicks pointed to how much soil had already been excavated, the enormous cranes in place along the banks of the river and the miniature concrete mixer towering near a building that had just been put up.

Granville gas plant cleanup

A portion of the Mettawee River in Granville is fenced off, as seen on April 9. Contractors will move a portion of the river to clean up the riverbed, and then move it back as part of a state Superfund cleanup. 

The DEC said a significant amount of non-polluted soil has been excavated so far, and will be used to restore the areas where polluted soil will be removed. Some contaminated soil was also excavated and will be disposed of at a treatment facility.

Around May and June, the DEC expects the bulk of the site’s polluted soils to be excavated and moved off-site. An on-site soil processing facility has been built that looks like a Quonset hut. The DEC said the material will be smelly, so processing it in the building will minimize odors.

Contractors are also working on setting up concrete barrier walls on a section of the Mettawee to keep some of the water from flowing into the excavation area.

The whole cleanup will include excavating soils not only in the river but on the Little League field and on the former gas plant site. Coal tar does not currently pose any threat to Little Leaguers or those on the field, DEC said in a fact sheet, because the contamination is deep in the ground.

In some places, rather than remove the coal tar, contractors will use a process called in-situ stabilization, which involves injecting a material that keeps the pollutants in place. The gas plant site will also be covered with at least 2 feet of soil.

As far as fishing goes, the Department of Health’s Fish Advisories office said fishing will not be allowed in the area of the Superfund site work.

There is currently no special fish advisory for downsteam of the site, it added, because the pollution was not found in the stream but underneath the stream bed.

The Department of Health recommended following its guideline of eating about one meal of caught fish per week, or four meals per month, a meal being the equivalent of about a half-pound.

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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