Massachusetts town converts fuel-contaminated land into park

Cleanup efforts are underway at the site of a former gas station in Marshfield, Massachusetts. A Gulf gas station once occupied the site but was demolished in the late 1990s. Tests conducted on the property revealed the soil and water to be contaminated by fuel. The city of Marshfield is using $50,000 in funds from Massachusetts’ Leaking Underground Storage Tank Release Prevention Program to pay Coler & Colantonio, an environmental engineering firm that is assessing the extent of damage to the land and water table on the site. The city and civic groups plan to convert the land into a park.

The city is also using $50,000 in voter-approved funds for investigation and cleanup of the property. A hazardous waste disposal company called Clean Harbors is removing about 60 cubic yards of fuel-contaminated soil from around the area where the gas pumps once stood.

The city of Marshfield acquired the property in 2003 when the former owner failed to pay the property taxes.

Lauren Konetznv, an engineer working at the site, said that the groundwater in the area of the old gas station is also contaminated with fuel. The water should clean up quickly, however, once the soil has been removed, she said. Engineers will drill six test wells next week to retest the water, which will be monitored repeatedly for the next several months. Because the polluted land sits in proximity to an old well, it must meet drinking water standards even though the well hasn’t been used for years.

Marshfield’s administrator, Rocco Longo, said that the city can proceed with park plans.

“What’s left now is for us to initiate a planning process for us to turn it into some kind of park or green space for the downtown,” he told the Patriot Ledger. “It might not be bad to have a little green space.”

A local memorial fund says on its website that it will create a park on the land and call it “Dandelion Park,” in memory of Molly Fitzgerald, a 14-year-old who died in June 2006.

“The Molly Fitzgerald Memorial Fund is undertaking our largest project to date in 2008. We will take what is now an ugly vacant lot in the middle of downtown Marshfield and turn it into a beautiful park in honor of Molly and all the other children who have died too early,” the website says.