ATLANTIC CITY — The second phase of the cleanup of soils under a long-gone manufactured-gas plant is under way, according to its owner, South Jersey Gas.
For the next few weeks workers will be doing site preparation, including taking out the foundations of an old Verizon building and two other buildings demolished in Phase I.
After that, soil removal and encasement will begin. Work is expected to continue through 2018, said SJ Gas Project Manager for Environmental Affairs Kenneth Sheppard.
The site is on the bay just south of where the Atlantic City Expressway enters Atlantic City.
Coal tars and chemicals from their breakdown have contaminated a square block between North Florida Avenue and Turnpike Road, bordered on the bay by Sunset Avenue and at the other end by Island Avenue.
The plant operated from 1900 to 1918 and was later acquired by South Jersey Gas from its operator, Atlantic City Gas and Water Co. A gas similar to natural gas was created by heating coal and oil in the days before natural gas could be mined and delivered by pipeline.
The company’s contractors will remove about 92,000 tons of soil from 2 to 6 feet down on the property and replace it with clean soil, according to SJ Gas. That work should start in about three weeks.
Another 163,000 tons of soil from 4 to 28 feet below the surface will be treated with stabilizers like Portland cement, keeping the deeper pollutants from leaching, the company said.
There are still two property owners that SJ Gas is trying to negotiate with to gain access for the remediation. One is the former Deull Fuel building owner and the other is the owner of a private residence on Sunset Avenue, he said.
SJ Gas is negotiating for access to the Deull Fuel and Sunset Avenue properties, according to Sheppard.
Phase 1 work included removal of three buildings, removal of 13,160 tons of polluted soils from Turnpike Road and North Georgia Avenue, and installing new subsurface sewer utilities in the area working with Atlantic City, according to SJ Gas.
The gas-manufacturing process produced byproducts and residues that may include tars, sludges and light oils, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The wastes contain known and suspected cancer-causing agents.
SJ Gas has said tests have shown the underground pollution plume ends under Turnpike Road and does not continue under nearby homes.
The company has said it has air and water quality monitors on site to make sure emissions don’t exceed safe levels.
The company has also said the pollution is underground and there are no pathways of exposure for the people in the area, although a gasoline-like odor was noticeable during a recent visit.