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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    John Snyder,left, skippered his boat for Ryan Jennison and Lisa Ferrisi so they could collect data on the water in the Merrimack River on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. The group made several stops on the river in Nashua, partly to check up on continued pollution seeping from the so-called Beazer site
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    John Snyder,left, skippered his boat for Ryan Jennison and Lisa Ferrisi so they could collect data on the water in the Merrimack River on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. The group made several stops on the river in Nashua, partly to check up on continued pollution seeping from the so-called Beazer site.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Lisa Ferrisi and Ryan Jennison discuss water samples taken for the Lower Merrimack River Advisory Council, which monitors water quality along the river from Manchester to the Massachusetts border.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    John Snyder skippered his boat for Ryan Jennison and Lisa Ferrisi so they could collect data on the water in the Merrimack River Tuesday, June 14, 2011. This spot is just upstream from the Greeley Park boat ramp in Nashua.




  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    John Snyder skippered his boat for Ryan Jennison and Lisa Ferrisi so they could collect data on the water in the Merrimack River Tuesday, June 14, 2011. This spot is just upstream from the Greeley Park boat ramp in Nashua




Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creosote pollution may last for years at site

NASHUA – A North End contamination site that has worried residents for decades won’t be cleaned up any time soon, a state official said.

According to Michael McCluskey, an engineer with the Department of Environmental Services, the Beazers East site at the end of Hills Ferry Road is contaminated so badly in so many ways that it will take “many, many more years’’ to clean it up.

The recent reappearance of an oily sheen on the Merrimack River near the site is proof that a pump-and-treat methodology used for years on the property isn’t working. Moreover, water containing creosote apparently overtopped a steel barrier on the site recently, allowing a discharge into the river, McCluskey said.

“That’s evidence the system isn’t working,’’ he said.

Creosote, a mixture of dangerous chemicals, was used on the site when it was owned by Koppers Inc., which manufactured and treated railroad ties there for decades. During the 1970s, there were pits filled with creosote on the site, residents said at the DES public hearing on the site a few years ago.

The company was shut down by the state in early 1980s when it discovered that creosote and arsenic from the site were being discharged into the river.

Pittsburgh-based Beazers East Inc., acquired the 97-acre site and office building in 1984. The company is under a consent agreement with DES to clean up what has become “a very complex’’ piece of land, McCluskey said.

Recent memorandums from Sanborn, Head and Associates, an engineering firm working with the state, show that the property contains DNAPLs, or dense non-aqueous phase liquids, an extremely dangerous class of chemicals.

If DNAPLs are allowed to remain where they’re found, they will steadily dissolve and contaminate groundwater for years, scientific journals say.

In the case of Beazers, the treatment plan has to be revised to treat DNAPLs using new infiltration galleries that will give engineers a better idea of how badly contaminated the groundwater is, McCluskey said.

“We have to have a good idea of what’s happening beneath the surface as well as what’s on the surface,’’ he said.

Beazers East is paying for all the work on the site. McCluskey said he has “no idea’’ what it all will cost . Beazers’ remediation manager, Mike Bollinger, didn’t return phone calls from The Telegraph.

In the meantime, problems on the property are likely to persist, much to the chagrin of environmental groups that monitor the river.

“We as a group feel it is taking far too long. We’re frustrated, that’s what it comes down to,’’ said Kathryn Nelson, water monitoring coordinator for the Nashua River Watershed Association.

George May, a longtime watchdog for river protection groups, said he hasn’t been to the Beazers site since the spring, but when he was there, the river water was oily and softball-size globules of tar were floating on surface.

He said he’d support any approach DES wants to take to get the site cleaned up, but he added the agency has had no record of success there.

“It’s been years and years, and some pretty nasty stuff has spread into river,’’ May said. “Nothing they have done has really worked.’’