The Holyoke Coal Tar Deposits Site is bordered by the Connecticut River to the north and east, industrial properties and the Route 116 Bridge to the south, and Gatehouse Road and the First and Third Level Canals to the west. South Hadley Falls is located adjacent to the property on the Connecticut River. The surrounding area is a mix of residential and industrial properties. Surface runoff and groundwater from the Site flows either directly or via the canals into the Connecticut River.
The Holyoke Gas Works, a defunct manufactured gas plant (MGP), produced gas from coal and petroleum for use in residential, commercial and industrial lighting between 1852 and 1952. The Site is located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on the west bank of the Connecticut River. During its operation, the facility generated approximately ten million gallons of coal tar waste. Between 1905 and 1952, at least 120,000 gallons of coal tar wastes were released from the Gas Works Site to the Connecticut River. While no records were available for the period from 1852 to 1905, routine industrial practices for MGPs indicate that releases were common. The releases from the Holyoke Gas Works occurred during flood events via drain and overflow pipes which originated from on-site underground storage tanks used to temporarily contain the coal tar wastes. In addition, the facility occasionally directly discharged coal tar to the Connecticut River. In 1990, the City of Holyoke Gas & Electric Department conducted a limited site investigation which confirmed that coal tar had entered the Connecticut River from the Site. Subsequent investigations identified at least 27 coal tar patches along the western side of the Connecticut River covering approximately 72,810 square feet (1.7 acres) of river bottom. In addition, the No. 2 Overflow Raceway of the Holyoke Canal System was determined to be contaminated with coal tar affecting as much as 42,000 square feet (0.9 acres) of raceway bottom sediment.
Work is done from a platform in the Connecticut River south of the Holyoke Dam in an ongoing effort to clean the river of coal tar deposits., Credit: The Republican newspaper (MassLive)