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Dunkirk Former Manufactured Gas Plant

Site Number 907035

Fact Sheet - March 2013

Dunkirk Former MGP Update: Remedial Investigation Begins

In March, National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation (National Fuel) will begin an expanded environmental study at the former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) site located at 31 West 2nd Street in Dunkirk, NY (see Site Location for map). This study, known as a Remedial Investigation (RI), is based on the previous Site Characterization announced in 2010, and is being performed to determine the nature and extent of MGP-related contamination in the area surrounding the site.

The RI will be performed in accordance with a DEC-approved Work Plan, which is available for public review at the locations identified below under Where to Find Information.

National Fuel, the property owner, will conduct the expanded investigation with oversight from DEC and New York State Department of Health (DOH).

Highlights of the Site Investigation

The Site Characterization study confirmed that some MGP-related structures such as building foundations remain in the subsurface beneath the site. One area of soil contamination was identified in the northeast corner of the site, associated with one of these foundations. Some of the soil contaminants are slowly dissolving in groundwater, and this groundwater is in turn moving slowly northeastward away from the site, beneath adjacent properties. The purpose of the RI will be to determine how far this contaminated groundwater has moved, and whether any adjacent properties or structures have been affected by the contamination.

The RI will supplement previously obtained information to build a better understanding of the extent of MGP related contamination. This investigation will include:

  • Further delineation of the source of contamination via 12 soil borings and monitoring wells on-site.
  • Delineation of the extent of contamination via the drilling of 6 off-site soil borings and monitoring wells.
  • Soil Vapor Intrusion (SVI) evaluation of a number of buildings on-site and off-site.

Digital Files of the RI Work Plan

Next Steps

The information collected during the RI will be summarized in a RI Report which will be reviewed by DEC and released to the public. National Fuel will then conduct a Feasibility Study (FS) to determine what level of cleanup work, if any, is necessary to protect human health and the environment.

Based on the RI and FS, DEC will then develop a Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP.) This plan will indicate whether or not cleanup actions must be taken. It will detail the various clean up alternatives considered, present the reasons for choosing or rejecting each, and ultimately identify DEC's preferred approach for a site cleanup, if such work is required. The goal of the plan will be to ensure the protection of public health and the environment. DEC, in consultation with DOH, will present the draft cleanup plan to the public for its review and comment during a 30-day comment period and at a public meeting to be held near the site.

DEC will strive to keep the public informed throughout the investigation and any required clean-up work at the site.


Location: The site is located at 31 West 2nd Street at the southwestern corner of the intersection of Eagle Street and West 2nd Street in Dunkirk, Chautauqua County, New York. The site is bordered by Swan Street to the west, West 2nd Street to the north, Eagle Street to the east, and an elevated railroad bed to the south. The site is located in a mixed commercial and residential area. Lake Erie is located about 600 feet north of the site.

Site Features: The site is an approximately 3 acre, rectangular shaped piece of land. The site is generally flat-lying and is largely paved with asphalt. A gravel-covered area used for staging gas distribution supplies is found in the southern, approximately, 1/3 of the site. Small strips of grass areas are located in the rights-of-way along the perimeter of the site and in the northeast corner of the site. A grassy area also exists on the southern edge of the site, near the railroad. The southern property boundary of the site is denoted by a fence that runs between the site and the railroad. A National Fuel Service Center building sits on the northeastern quadrant of the site. The Service Center building consists of a high-bay garage located south of the attached office area. Two other buildings are present at the property - a small metal sided storage building and a brick gas regulator building, which are both located south-southwest of the Service Center building. A fuel pump island is located west of the metal sided storage building and consists of a pump island supported by an above ground storage tank (AST) containing diesel and an underground storage tank (UST) containing gasoline.

Current Zoning/Use: This is an active National Fuel Gas service center.

Historical Uses: The former MGP generated manufactured gas via coal carbonization from the late 1860s to the late 1900s. Coal carbonization is a process by which volatile gases are generated from coal that is heated in the absence of oxygen. These gases were used in much the same way as natural gas is used today.

The production and purification process for manufactured gas produced an oily waste material known as coal tar, which contains many chemical constituents including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This tar is the principal environmental contaminant in the soils beneath the site.

Geology and Hydrogeology: Soils beneath the site are largely silt and clay-rich lacustrine deposits. These soils are not highly permeable, so subsurface migration of contamination is likely to be limited. The upcoming investigation is being performed to confirm that this is the case.

About the MGP Program

DEC has one of the most aggressive Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) Programs site investigation and remediation programs in the country. Since the problems associated with the former MGP sites were identified, DEC has been working with all the utilities on a state-wide basis to identify and address the issue of MGP sites for which they may have responsibility. This effort has resulted in approximately 235 sites identified for action by the eight utilities operating in New York State.

Currently we have multi-site orders or agreements with six utilities, including National Fuel, and several other individual site volunteers, to address 222 MGP sites in NYS. Multi-site agreements are under negotiation with a seventh utility and several other responsible parties which have newly-identified sites.

DEC continues to seek to identify any other possible MGP sites throughout the State.

Also, you can find more information about the DEC's MGP program.

Who to Contact

Questions and comments about the project are welcome. Please contact the following representatives:

Project Related Questions:
William Wu
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
(518) 402-9662

Health Related Questions:
Nathan T. Freeman
Empire State Plaza
Corning Tower, Room 1787
Albany, NY 12237
(518) 402-7860

Site-Specific Questions:
Karen Merkel
NFG Corporate Communications
(716) 857-7654

Where to Find Information

To keep you informed, DEC has set up several locations at which you may view project documents. These locations include:

Dunkirk Free Library
536 Central Avenue
Dunkirk, NY 14048
Phone: (716) 366-2511

NYSDEC Region 9 Office
270 Michigan Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: (716) 851-7220

NYSDEC Central Office
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
Phone: (518) 402-9662

You may also view electronic copies of project documents under Digital Files of the RI Work Plan.

Site Location

Aerial view of Dunkirk Former MGP site
Aerial view of Dunkirk Former MGP site