Originally created 12/21/96

Former gas factory cleanup includes Augusta Canal



Engineers planning the cleanup of toxic coal tar from a former gas factory on Eighth Street are developing a separate remediation program to remove contaminated soil from the Augusta Canal.

"We have, just today (Friday), finished collecting soil and water data for the canal delineation," said Larry Bradbury, environmental safety director for Atlanta Gas Light Co., which owns the former manufactured gas site.

The plant property, where coal and oil were burned to make gas from 1852 until 1955, contains buildups of toxic coal tar. Chemicals from that tar have spread to adjacent properties through groundwater and soil.

Atlanta Gas will begin removal of the gas holder next month and has agreed - in an out-of-court settlement to a lawsuit - to pay property owners for damages associated with the contamination.

Cleanup of both the gas holder and a company-owned parcel to the west should occur between January and April. The canal cleanup is scheduled to begin in June and be completed around Dec. 1.

Mr. Bradbury said analysis of soil and water along a seven-block portion of the canal will determine the extent of the remediation program.

"At this point, we know the project will likely include excavation of some soil," he said. But the depth - and length along the canal - will be determined after data is examined, perhaps by late January.

"I would expect, in early 1997, to meet with the city and the Augusta Canal Authority to discuss the project," he said, adding that the Atlanta Gas cleanup will coincide with the city's canal redevelopment plans.

City officials, working with the Canal Authority, hope to beautify the third level of the canal by cleaning some areas and rewatering the shallow, stagnant areas to restore the flow of water.

The redevelopment efforts are part of the Augusta Canal Master Plan devised three years ago in anticipation of Congress designating the canal as a National Heritage Area, which occurred in October.

"We've had some conversations with the city and Canal Authority," he said. "Their target was June to start physical work over there. We think there's some areas that we'll have to take care of, either in conjunction with the city's work or prior to them beginning."

Dick Fox, chairman-elect of the Canal Authority, said the gas company's cleanup in the area could be enhanced by a local effort to clean up trash and debris in the area.

"It's one of our goals to institute a cleanup of that part of the canal," Mr. Fox said. "It's been a trashy area for a long time and we need to organize a cleanup campaign, irrespective of the schedule of Atlanta Gas Light."