Gerrish Motors site to undergo new clean up effort

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(Host) A new effort to clean up a contaminated commercial property on the east side of Woodstock could begin as early as this fall.

Contamination of the former Gerrish Motors site began in the 1970’s.

That’s when a joint in an underground gas tank leaked an estimated four-thousand gallons of oil.

The state began investigating in the 1980’s when a fisherman reported a gas odor at a tributary near the site.  

The site has undergone previous clean up efforts, but the changing shape of the oil plume has required ongoing monitoring, and a few years ago pollution was discovered in other areas on the site.

Brian Woods is the site manager for the Department of Environmental Conservation. He says this process is not unusual for a spill from an underground tank.

(Woods) "We thought we had the area of contamination well characterized in a previous effort we had an active clean up system that actually worked very effectively in the source area and around that where the underground storage tanks used to be. And there was another area the investigation didn’t reveal that migrated down and had accumulated."

(Host) The cleanup has taken so long because of debate about who should pay for it.

Gerrish Motors wanted its insurance company to cover the cost, but the insurer said it shouldn’t be responsible for the pollution.

Ultimately, the insurer was found to be liable. A portion of that money was turned over to the state, which pays for the clean up out of that fund.

There is still 460-thousand dollars from the insurance settlement and that will be used for the renewed clean-up effort.

Ethan Allen Environmental has been hired to coordinate the work. It plans to hire a contractor that will inject oxygen into the contaminated area and then excavate it.

Work could begin this fall, once a contract is signed.

Woods says the project is expected to take a year and the site will be monitored for another year after that.

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