DES digging into ground under old New Ipswich service station
NEW IPSWICH — With the old Citgo station gone, the state Department of Environmental Services has moved in and is cleaning up tons of contaminated soil.
According to Joyce Bledsoe of the department’s Oil Remediation and Compliance Bureau, the contamination beneath the old gas station has existed since 1989 and was caused by a series of leaks from underground tanks over the station’s 60-year history.
“There have been nine underground tanks on that property since it was opened in the 1950s,” said Bledsoe.
There were several attempts to mitigate the soil contamination in order to protect the groundwater, but Bledsoe said that because of the building’s location, it was impossible to remove all the soil. In 2006, soil was taken from the parking area, but that left plenty of contaminated ground untouched.
The building was recently removed, so now the state can do a complete cleanup, digging up more than 7,000 tons of dirt and shipping it to a recycling plant in Loudon where it will be used to make asphalt, Bedsoe said. New fill has been brought in this week to restore the site, and the current owner, Global Montello Group Inc., will be selling the property once the effort is complete.
In total, the state has paid close to $900,000 over the years to mitigate contamination of groundwater beneath the gas station.
“The State of New Hampshire wants all of its groundwater to be of drinking water quality,” said Bledsoe.
In order to maintain that quality, the state has an insurance program paid for by consumers at the pump to help offset the cost of remediation.
“We have a lot of these projects, a lot of sites that are contaminated,” said Bledsoe, “and the state Reimbursement Insurance Fund pays for the cleanups.”
To guard against future spills, Bledsoe said the department is working to improve standards regarding storage tanks and facilities, and follows upgrades to fuel delivery systems to ensure business owners have all the tools they need to avoid contaminating property.
“The technology has really improved over the years,” said Bledsoe.