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Old Albany gas plant may need expensive cleanup

Remnants of buildings left near where a manufactured gas plant once sat are the only reminders of the possible ground contamination around the area. City and WG&L officials are under an order from the EPD to start cleanup efforts at the site by Sept. 1.

Remnants of buildings left near where a manufactured gas plant once sat are the only reminders of the possible ground contamination around the area. City and WG&L officials are under an order from the EPD to start cleanup efforts at the site by Sept. 1.

Albany, Ga. - A manufactured gas plant that once provided heat and electricity for Albany during the early part of the 20th century could end up costing the taxpayers and ratepayers of the city millions to clean up.

The Environmental Protection Division of Georgia is demanding that the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission and the city of Albany begin exploratory digging on the site of the utility's former manufactured gas plant off Society Avenue to see how much toxic tar has leached into the ground.

Friday, WG&L asked the joint longterm financial planning committee for $750,000 in MEAG trust funds to jump start the digging process.

EPD is demanding that digging start by Sept. 1.

Still, the two city commissioners who sit on the LTFPC questioned how WG&L let the plant cleanup situation get to this point without sharing information with anyone with the city, who, under the city charter is the legal entity who could be sued by the EPD regardless of WG&L's involvement.

"If ultimately the city was going to be responsible we should've been brought in a long time ago," Langstaff said.

Keith Gooden, WG&L's chief engineer, said that City Attorney Nathan Davis was notified by the EPD of the problem while doing research on Radiator Shop on the East Side of the river as early as 2002.

Built in 1912, the plant was decommissioned in 1948 and has sat dormant until most of it was demolished decades later. The site still sits mostly unused except for a few locked buildings.

Langstaff and Tommie Postell, the other city commissioner on the board and the chairman of the LTFPC, both questioned WG&L officials over the decision to accepted a $150,000 settlement from Travelers Insurance company, when cleanup estimates top $5 million.

"Surely someone knew that if you accepted a settlement, you let the insurance company off the hook," Langstaff said. "Maybe the city commission didn't want to let Traveler's off the hook. You've really taken away a lot of our discretion."

Postell put it more bluntly.

"You've nursed this baby for decades and now you've come to us for an abortion," Postell said.

Langstaff has motioned to have a special called meeting added to Tuesday's city commission work session to allow the city commission to decide whether the city should take over responsibility for cleanup on the site or to allow WG&L to continue the work.

The actual price of the work that will need to be done won't really be known until the digging starts, Gooden said.

"We'll know more once the digging starts. The whole bottom line is how much has gotten into the water and we won't know that until we get into it," Gooden said.

Comments

Cartman 1 year, 12 months ago

My feelings for the EPD are the same as for the TSA. I think they are expensive to maintain; do more harm than good; and should be defunded.

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RedEric 1 year, 12 months ago

B.S., millions to clean up is just another ripoff of taxpayers. Use bacteria to clean up toxic tar. I farmed oil sludge that the natural soil bacteria ate and did it in less than two years. The next lowest bid was 7 million and they were going to incinerate on site. I did it for $60,000. The only bad thing was I had to plow under the prettiest crop of buckwheat I have ever seen. That is what happens when your world is run by idiots!

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VietVet1 1 year, 12 months ago

RedEric - but you did it out of your pocket - this route means they get more $$$ from taxpayers.

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jglass 1 year, 12 months ago

It has been sitting there since 1948, why is it an issue now?

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bigbob 1 year, 12 months ago

Taxpayers in Albany should have pimps because their getting it more than the hookers.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 12 months ago

Listening to Postell and reading the above news brief, I fail to grasp the severity of the problem. Does anyone know exactly the level and types of toxicity at the site?

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whattheheck 1 year, 12 months ago

When was the $150,000 settlement? Sounds like to me WG&L should suck this one up. Spread it over a larger base. If WG&L doesn't want the city to be more involved in its management and direction, let them put on the big boy pants and take care of it themselves.

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 12 months ago

Tar occurs naturally. Ever hear about the tar pits? What is all the hoopla about? I suspect this was discovered because it is in the general area of the proposed new "Phoebe Mega Bridge" that will go from Clark over to Society over all those old train tracks. This old plant has been there forever, why else would this have come to anyone's attention?

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WeAreThey 1 year, 12 months ago

Betty, is this the bridge on the TSPLOST list? If so, why does Phoebe need a bridge? Have any clue?

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 12 months ago

Romney 2012!! He will put an end to this kind of Beaurocratic S**T !

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FryarTuk 1 year, 12 months ago

Not hardly. He's the only one who has instituted socialized medicine in this country and when in Europe on his mighty tour de force to show his diplomatic strengths lavished praise on the national health services of Israel, England and Poland. Romney's the guy that delivers total "Beaurocratic S**T". Ron Paul's your man. I know this is digression from the subject but I could not resist. Apologies all round.

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Amazed2 1 year, 11 months ago

Why is the news and the people all acting like this is a new story and a recent developement. There has been studies and soil sampling etc. going on at this site I know for at least the last 10 years or maybe even 20 years. Check the facts on this if you dont trust what I saw. This thing dates back to Mayor Gray's reign. Unfortunately the old process at the time was not a problem or issue of the standards of the time period. Fact is all the new and evolving regualtions and studies have deemed a lot of sites like these and even a lot of military bases as Environmental Issues. Most all old bases have major issues by todays standards. This is not NEW News. Amazed2

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J.D._Sumner 1 year, 11 months ago

Amazed, while the plant have been there for decades, the mandated digging date is September 1, which hadnt been made public. That, plus the fact WG&L is asking for help to pay for it from the LTFPC makes it newsworthy again.

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Amazed2 1 year, 11 months ago

JD Thanks for the update. The EPD is a moving target.

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J.D._Sumner 1 year, 11 months ago

Betty, according to WG&L, EPD has been monitoring this site since it was torn down. Edwards says, however, that at somepoint over the last 5-10 years, the EPD changed regs for cleanup and after decades of telling them not to disturb the ground, now wish for them to dig.

As for the bridge, Phoebe argued the need for another bridge after the 1994 flood cut the city largely in half.

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