Rt. 7 Maplefields closed for fuel clean-up

NEW HAVEN — The Maplefields Mobil gas station on the New Haven stretch of Route 7 North will be closed for approximately one month beginning June 19, at 11 p.m. After what station manager Sherry Cram referred to as “years of abuse,” the station is shutting down to remove contaminated soil and possibly reduce toxins already found in the bedrock.
Over the past two decades, the station — formerly run by MacIntyre Fuels — has been home to numerous oil spills. According to Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) project manager Tami Wuestenberg, the most notable spills have been an underground fuel release that was discovered in 1992 when tanks were removed, a 1998 above ground tank release and a 2006 spill that dumped about 1,000 gallons of diesel for reasons still unknown.
The Colchester-based environmental cleanup consultant The Verterre Group — charged with the task of cleaning up the site’s contamination — removed “a total of 331,000 tons of petroleum-contaminated soil and 7,000 gallons of petroleum contaminated water,” according to a 2004 summary of their initial remediation efforts.
One of the key issues surrounding this “high priority” hazardous waste site is that it has contaminated the station’s and adjacent land’s drinking water. When the neighboring New Haven United Reform Church drilled a 600-foot drinking well in 2000, Wuestenberg explained, they discovered that their water had been contaminated.
 “In Addison County the bedrock is fractured, so there are giant lines of fractures that connect to the aquifer — the water that’s in the bedrock. It just so happens that where this well was drilled (by the church) is connected to the bedrock fracture that the Mobil (station) is sitting on, and the contamination from either the underground storage tank (that spilled in 1992) or above ground storage tank (that spilled in 1998) … is directly linked to that supply well,” said Wuestenberg.
The water tables are also prone to rising and when the groundwater comes up to the surface it can draw contaminants back down into the bedrock, explained Wuestenberg.
The clean-up effort means that more state money has to be spent to solve the problem.
“The state pays for (the church’s) water to be treated and then we also supply them with bottled water,” said Wuestenberg.
Over the next 30 days, the pump islands will be ripped up and thousands of pounds of soil will be removed and taken to a landfill.
“It would be a miracle if this work will completely clean up the site because there’s so much contamination in the bedrock,” said Wuestenberg. “They’re just trying to do a massive source removal, so we hope to see a significant decline of contaminants in the water. But only time will tell.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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