Written by Alex DavisSaturday, April 05, 2014 11:00 am
CAPE MAY — Nearly 30 years later, cleanup continues at the site of a former manufactured gas plant in Cape May. Later this year, Jersey Central Power and Light will remove contaminated soil at a nearby property at the corner of St. John and Lafayette streets.
When major mediation begins, Cape May’s dog park on Lafayette Street will be closed for at least two years, said city manager Bruce MacLeod. The city is not looking into hosting a temporary location, he said. MacLeod said that heavy equipment would be on site and digging would occur between Labor Day and the end of May and would not interrupt summer. The dog park has been in operation for four or five years, according to MacLeod. “We do have several patrons that take advantage of the dog park,” he said. Jersey Central Power and Light needs Cape May City Council’s approval before work can begin, according to Ron Morano, spokesman for Jersey Central Power and Light. So far, about 10,000 tons of contaminated soil have been taken from the site and nearby properties, he said. The former plant was owned and operated from 1853-1937 and generated coal gas to power street lights and heat and cooking needs at homes in Cape May.
The cleanup work dates back to 1985 when Jersey Central Power and Light began conducting environmental investigations at the site. Jersey Central Power and Light has been working with the state Department of Environmental Protection and a licensed site remediation professional to conduct investigative and remedial activities at the former gas plant and other properties affected by soil and groundwater contamination. Left behind from the plant were coal tar residues and oils, which includes benzene, according to information from Jersey Central Power and Light.
In 2009, Jersey Central Power and Light found no contamination to the deep aquifer, and that meant the company could proceed with a remedial action work plan for the property — groundwater pumping/treatment. The dog park is open from dawn to dusk daily. The Cape May Dog Friendly Association manages the dog park in conjunction with Cape May government.
Those under 18-year-old must be accompanied with an adult at the dog park, and children under 10 prohibited from entering the fence.
Seasonal dog park license fees are $20 and $10 for a week. Applications and park tags can be picked up from the Cape May City Clerk’s Office at 643 Washington St. in Cape May.