GILFORD, N.H. (AP) – The state Department of Environmental Services says KeySpan Energy should remove 80 percent of the most highly contaminated soil in an area where its predecessor dumped coal tar.

The contamination occurred in 1952 when coal tar from an exploded manufactured gas plant was disposed of in gravel pits on Liberty Hill Road. Years later, the tar lagoon was filled in and homes built over it.

While many living near the site hoped the state would require KeySpan to completely remove the estimated 121,000 tons of contaminated soil, the state on Friday agreed with the company’s plan to spend $8.7 million to remove 27,500 tons, less than a quarter of the overall volume of contaminated soil but 80 percent of the “tar-saturated” soil.

In its preliminary ruling, the state said complete removal would cost $7.2 million more but “would result in no appreciable reduction in risk to human health and would provide little or no benefits to the environment.”

A final decision from DES will come in 90 days, but town officials said they will consider appealing it either to the governor or through the court system.

“I don’t believe one word of it,” John Goodhue, chairman of the town conservation commission. “Complete removal is complete removal.”

Liberty Hill residents said they worry about their property values and their health.

Wayne Gustafson, who lives across the street from the dumpsite, said he never will be able to get away from the site, which KeySpan proposes to leave as open space.

“I’ve got a piece of property I will never be able to sell,” he said.

Richard Cote said he was more concerned about what the coal tar toxicity.

“I don’t even care about my property value any more. I have a five-year-old that I want to be able to grow up safely,” he said. “You stand there in the morning, in the shower, and you don’t know what is absorbing into your body.”

Information from: Citizen,

AP-ES-03-01-08 1213EST

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