As American energy demands evolved, our methods of production also advanced. While today we have an abundance of domestically-produced oil and natural gas thanks to innovative drilling techniques, this was not always the case. In the past, facilities produced gas from coal and oil, which today is no longer economically or environmentally sustainable.
Previous gas production methods left behind a byproduct similar to asphalt or tar, and environmental regulations were not available to guide the proper disposal of these substances. Because the tar-like byproduct had little use or value, the majority of producers simply buried it near their production sites. This was the case for the South Jersey Gas plant near the Swedesboro-Woolwich border.
"At that time of history, it wasn't an environmental concern, but it was a nuisance, so they buried," Ken Sheppard, project manager for environmental affairs at SJ Gas, told NewJersey.com. "Now we have all these buried byproducts, so we're going to go in and dig up every last bit of it."
Remediation of the 6-acre site will require the removal of roughly 40,000 tons of soil, digging as deep as 22 feet below ground in some areas. The contaminated soil will be sent to a treatment facility in Delaware before being used as clean fill in an area landfill. Clean soil will be trucked in, and the property will be considered fully remediated and available for unrestricted use in late 2015, according to the source.
Remediation efforts at previous industrial sites revitalize local economies by allowing new businesses to begin adding to tax rolls. Environmental consultants help property owners and local stakeholders identify the most efficient means of returning land to usable condition, ensuring maximum return on investment.