DEC: Coal gas plant cleanup is complete

SARANAC LAKE — Work removing contaminated material from Brandy Brook and Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay is complete, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Remediation contractors have removed more than 18,000 tons of contaminated sediment from Pontiac Bay and 8,400 tons of contaminated soil and sediment from Brandy Brook, in a recovery effort that began last spring.

The DEC reports that excavated areas were backfilled with sand, stone and other materials to provide habitat for wildlife. Final elevations were restored during backfilling. Culverts were cleaned and upgraded, and fallen trees and other debris were removed from Brandy Brook, improving drainage around Pontiac Bay.

During the effort, part of the state boat launch and village property on Lake Flower were closed for use in processing sediment, transportation operations and staging equipment. All structures and equipment have been removed from the site.

As a result, parking was prohibited at the boat launch during operations, but the DEC kept the launch ramp open. The department also leased the former Nonna Fina Restaurant site to provide parking for vehicles with boat trailers.

In the spring, the DEC will complete final restoration of the sites, which will include planting trees, shrubs and other vegetation along the shores of the bay and banks of the brook. Topsoil will be laid and grass seeded on village land, and paving and landscaping will be completed at the boat launch. A fence will be installed along the boundary of the boat launch and the village property.

DEC Region 5 Director Robert Stegemann said in a press release that working with the village was the DEC’s top priority, to make sure the area was restored.

“We also worked with the village and the Winter Carnival Committee to make sure the site was ready for the 2019 Winter Carnival,” Stegemann said. “In response to their requests, we changed the final grade of the Ice Palace Parcel from two to one percent, changed the slope of the shoreline to facilitate removal of ice blocks, and ensured that the site was properly restored at the conclusion of construction activities.”

Contaminants at the site were the result of a manufactured gas plant near Payeville Road that operated from the late 1800s into the 1940s. Using coal gasification, the plant produced gas for lighting the village.

This resulted in the generation of coal tar and other contaminants which were dumped into Brandy Brook and transported downstream and into Pontiac Bay of Lake Flower.

According to the press release, the DEC continues to address contaminants at the gasification plant, but due to local hydrology, these remaining contaminants cannot enter Brandy Brook.

The Saranac Lake MGP Remediation Project was funded by and conducted under the state Superfund program.