The 38-acre Pine Street Canal site consists of a canal and turning basin, adjacent wetlands, an area formerly known as Maltex Pond, and an additional portion of land. Around 1908, a coal gasification plant began operating on Pine Street, southeast of the canal. The plant ceased operations in 1966. Plant wastewaters and residual oil and wood chips saturated with organic compounds were directly discharged or disposed of in the Pine Street Canal wetland. During the 1960s and 1970s, an oil-like material was detected seeping from the wetland into Pine Street Canal, the turning basin, and Maltex Pond. The State detected high levels of organic compounds associated with coal tar at several locations while investigating the site for a then proposed major highway. The State was concerned that construction would release organic compounds into the canal and possibly into Lake Champlain, the source of Burlington's drinking water.
Contaminants in the groundwater include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including benzene, toluene, and xylenes. Canal sediment are contaminated with PAHs, VOCs, and metals. The soil contains PAHs, VOCs, and heavy metals including lead. Cyanide has also been detected in the soil. There is unrestricted public access to the site, although access is difficult because of the marshy terrain. Portions of the site are seasonally flooded, permitting the potential spread of contamination.
Credit: S. Schuyler