PECO Cleans up Pa. Gas Plant Sites

Two former manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites in Montgomery County, Pa., are ready for recreational and residential development, according to a March 6 press release from PECO.

PECO was responsible for 27 former MGP sites across suburban Philadelphia. Since the company began cleaning up the sites in 1994, it has earned Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) certification for 16 sites; 11 sites remain. Plans are under way to clean up those sites as well.

The first plant, in North Wales, was operated by a predecessor company from about 1910 until 1913. After completion of soil and groundwater testing and a human health risk assessment, PECO recently obtained a release of liability from the state regulatory agency. There are no definite development plans for this site yet.

The Royersford MGP site, located along the Schuylkill River, was a gas plant from 1877 to 1899. At the time, gas was used in the borough mainly for street lighting. PECO conducted excavation of soil in late 2006, removing approximately 12,000 tons of soil and debris. Royersford and the current site owner are planning to develop a "green" walking trail along the Schuylkill River, with plans for a waterfront condominium on the remaining portion.

"It's rewarding to do this work, because you're taking property with limited use and putting it back to a beneficial use for the community," said Mike Heffron, PECO environmental programs manager.

Before the advent of natural gas service, manufactured gas was produced locally in many parts of the United States to provide fuel for lighting, cooking, and heating. Some facilities date back to the early 1800s. Gas was produced using processes that involved the use of coal, oil, or both. Byproducts or residuals from the gas manufacturing process can be found at these sites.

Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation. It serves 1.6 million electric and 485,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and employs about 2,400 people in the region.