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Gilford wants coal tar cleanup sped up

GILFORD - The town will ask state environmental officials to speed up a plan announced this week to clean up a Liberty Hill lot that was found to be contaminated with coal tar in 2004.

The plan is an agreement between the Department of Environmental Services and the current owner of the site, Liberty Utilities, to remove 45,000 cubic yards, or approximately 61,000 tons, of contaminated soil for treatment elsewhere by 2014.

Liberty Utilities, which acquired the property from National Grid earlier this year, will pay the cost of the cleanup, which is estimated at between $8 million and $16 million, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.

The cleanup proposal was prepared by GEI Consultants Inc. of Woburn, Mass. It would clean the soils between 69 and 87 Liberty Hill Road. The proposal calls for an excavation as deep as 55 feet.

There will be more than 1,700 feet of fencing around the project, according to DES officials.

If the plan is approved by town and state officials, the cleanup will take two years.

But the town would like to see it occur faster.

"We will be asking that the plan be accelerated so that we can get this done with sooner," Dunn said. "The sooner they can clean it, the happier the town will be."

In 2004, another former owner of the property, Keyspan, discovered that in 1952, about 430 tons of coal tar was dumped on the property as a result of an explosion of a Winnipesaukee River gas plant. Keyspan and National Grid have been working with the state and the town since then on a remediation plan for the property.

DES will hold a public hearing on the plan on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Gilford Public Library.

The town's selectmen will be at the meeting with questions, Dunn said.

"The selectmen hope to find the answers at that meeting that will help them determine whether this plan is what should be considered," Dunn said.

The town may consider purchasing the property at a future point, he said.

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Dan Seufert may be reached at

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