Black Ash Pond cleanup continues through DEC, Georgia Pacific

The work to remove around five million cubic feet of “Black Liquor” continues in the town of Willsboro.

The work to remove around five million cubic feet of “Black Liquor” continues in the town of Willsboro.

— The work to remove around five million cubic feet of “Black Liquor” continues in the town of Willsboro.

The “Liquor,” also known as Black Ash, was a byproduct created by the Champlain Fibre Company and Willsboro Pulp Mill production of paper over 80 years.

The site to deposit the material, known as Black Ash Pond, borders the Boquet River. The river was protected from the materials by a man-made dike, however the structure started to partially erode, leaving the river exposed to the ash, a combination of soda ash, chemical lime, wood fiber and soft coal.

After the town of Willsboro, which currently owns the property after it was deeded to them from Georgia Pacific in 1966 and has its water treatment plant there, studied the site and determined that work needed to be done, Georgia Pacific was charged with the task under the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Last week I had a tour of the site with representatives of the of the construction group, DEC and Georgia Pacific,” Willsboro Supervisor Ed Hatch said. “When the work is completed, it will be an example of how environmental hazards of the past will not damage the environment of the future.”

Work began earlier this year, following a DEC Record of Decision in 2007 and project changes last year.

The remediation of the property plan from the DEC included consolidation and covering of the black ash material, grading the surface to control infiltration, and reinforcing of the stream bank with rip-rap. It later included the construction of inlet and outfall structures along the riverbank.

Cleanup work will include excavation of the black ash from the riverbank, followed by consolidation and soil cover.

“When completed, the site is a part of the plans of Willsboro to be used as a nature and a historical site,” Hatch said. “We here in Willsboro are very appreciate to Georgia Pacific and NYDEC for cleaning it up and making a very nice asset to the town. The site will also be used as a starting point for a walking trail along the Boquet River banks for a nature and Historical walking site along the Boquet River to Noblewood Park and Lake Champlain.”

Work is being done through the New York State Superfund program, which identifies and characterizes suspected inactive hazardous waste disposal sites, including sites that pose a significant threat to public health and/or the environment go through a process of investigation, evaluation, cleanup and monitoring.

Once completed, GP will produce a Final Engineering that will describe the cleanup completed and certify that cleanup requirements have been achieved or will be achieved.

For more information on the project, contact the town of Willsboro at 963-8668, or visit the DEC’s project website at dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/derexternallhaz/details.cfm?pageid=3&progno=5l6009.

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