TICONDEROGA - A small spill has become a big expense for Ticonderoga taxpayers.
About two gallons of gasoline was spilled on the floor of the Ticonderoga highway garage recently, Supervisor Deb Malaney reported. The spill was immediately cleaned up.
An unnamed community member learned of the accident and reported it to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Malaney said. That led to a DEC investigation.
"The DEC came the next day and found a small stain and learned the spill had been cleaned up properly," she said.
No problem, right? Wrong.
While investigating the spill, the DEC officer saw an abandoned drain in the garage floor. Further investigate revealed the drain led to a dry well outside the garage.
The drain and dry well were installed when the highway garage was built in 1953, Malaney said, and had not been used since the 1970s.
Concerned about possible past contamination, DEC ordered Ticonderoga to have soil samples taken from around the highway garage.
"We had to hire an environmental service to do core samplings under the garage floor, do geo-probes and do test pits near the holding tank," Malaney explained. "We're still awaiting results of the tests, but it doesn't look good."
The supervisor said 20 tons of earth have been removed from the site to date and transported to a hazardous materials waste site.
"We're looking at a minimum of $100,000 with most of that being the transportation of the soil to a proper tipping site," Malaney said.
That money is not in the highway department - or town - budget.
If the test results reveal more contamination, Ti will be responsible for the costly clean up.
"That doesn't include any potential fines that might be imposed (by DEC)," Malaney said. "We could be fined $37,000 a day. That's scary stuff."
The supervisor said Ticonderoga officials are working closely with the DEC in hopes of avoiding fines.
"We're very anxious to please them and they've been supportive," Malaney said.
Malaney said she has also been in contact with state Sen, Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward in hopes they can assist Ticonderoga in dealing with the situation.
"The contamination took place in the 1970s back to the 50s, before today's environmental awareness," Malaney said. "We're hoping DEC will allow us to clean this up long term. Otherwise, it could put the town out of business."