Press Release

EASTON, MD (December 4, 2003) – Maryland’s Department of the Environment (MDE) will begin clean up of the former Easton Gas Manufacturing Plant next week. That work may produce some noticeable odors in the vicinity, but there is no cause for alarm.

“These wastes can have a pungent odor, similar to hot asphalt, tar, mothballs or railroad ties,” said MDE’s Waste Management Administration Director Jonas A. Jacobson. “And although steps will be taken to minimize odors, it is likely that some noticeable odors will be detectable some distance from the site. The smells can be a nuisance even at low concentrations, but they are rarely hazardous except under the most extreme conditions which are not expected to exist at the site.”

The Easton Gas Manufacturing Plant site is located at 1 South West Street. MDE’s clean up work will include the removal of the plant’s old foundation, the excavation of soils to a depth of two feet, and backfilling the area. This work is expected to take three weeks and will be conducted by the experienced excavation firm Subsurface Technologies Incorporated.

As part of a redevelopment proposal in January and February 2001, MDE collected surface and subsurface soil samples and groundwater samples at the property. In July 2002, MDE recommended active remediation of the site. Soils and groundwater underlying the old gas plant area contain organic compounds, petroleum and petroleum-related compounds, by-products that include coal tar, ammonia, metals and other wastes. The wastes are consistent with contamination from these types of facilties.

MDE’s oversight contractor will actively monitor odor levels around the site to ensure the safety of workers and passersby. Should safe levels be exceeded at the site, work will be stopped until the levels reduce to the point where work can safely resume. Work will stop each evening and the excavation will be covered with plastic until operations resume the next morning. In addition, trucks will travel between the site and Delaware to dispose of the contaminated soil. Trucks will be cleaned to minimize dirt tracked offsite.

The former Easton Gas Manufacturing Plant began operations around 1860 and provided gas for lighting to public, commercial and domestic clients. The Easton Utility Commission purchased the property in 1922 and continued with the production of gas. The commission ceased all on-site operations in 1955 but still owns the property.

For additional information interested persons should call MDE’s Environmental Restoration and Redevelopment Program at (800) 633-6101, ext. 3493.