PLAISTOW — For more than 70 years, thousands of gallons of oil and other contaminants were dumped on a site off Main Street. Last week, the first truckloads of the contaminated soil finally left the site.
Between 15 and 20 truckloads a day will leave the 41-acre Beede Waste Oil Superfund site, bound for a landfill in Rochester. Each truck can carry 20 tons of soil.
The soil removal must be done within very specific guidelines, designed to protect the community.
“Everything is planned in a particular fashion,” said Greg Howard, spokesman for the Beede group, those responsible for the contamination. “An abundance of caution is used at all times.”
The trucks travel along an access road that connects the site with Main Street. The trucks go south on Main Street, then turn onto Route 125.
“We want them to stay on the state highway system,” Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said. “We don’t want to see our town roads at risk of accident or being damaged by heavy trucking.”
The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the town were in negotiations for more than a year over what route the trucks would take. The EPA chose the current route, not the route the town preferred off Old County Road.
Project coordinator Mike Skinner said, as of Monday, 112 loads of soil had been hauled away with no incidents.
Both residents and business owners near the site said there had been no disruptions so far.
“I’ve barely even noticed it,” said Michelle Gagnon, 39, of 4 Shady Way. “It’s just been normal construction sound.”
Bob Bradish, president of Pro Flooring at 216 Main St., agreed with Gagnon.
“I see them coming out every so often,” Bradish said from his office, which sits across the street from the access road. “But there have been no problems yet.”
For Howard, that’s the way he prefers it.
“Most people in the area shouldn’t know we are doing anything,” he said. “If they see one of the trucks, they should know it’s just a little bit of the problem getting better.”
Fitzgerald said he visited the site last week to see the process for himself.
“Our town staff is very involved in the process,” he said. “We are making sure people don’t mistakenly drive into a Superfund site.”
The Beede group has been in touch with Timberlane Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Earl Metzler to coordinate the trucking schedule with school buses.
“This summer, we obtained their bus routes,” Howard said. “Trucks are instructed not to be on Main Street when buses are scheduled to drop off or pick up kids.”
The first phase of soil cleanup will last 28 days and involve an estimated 565 truckloads of soil, Howard said. After this phase is complete, crews will begin installation of equipment at the new water treatment plant. The next phase of soil removal is scheduled for 2016, following a steaming process which will remove contaminated vapors.