Frequently Asked Questions
What contaminants are on the Site?
Tests have indicated the presence of some residual compounds from the former MGP and power plant in the Site’s soil and groundwater. The primary class of compounds detected at the site is semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). The SVOCs detected are those that form when organic matter, such as coal, wood and gas, are burned. In addition, we detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals. VOCs are also found in things like gasoline, paint thinner and cleaning products.
Environmental tests detected substances in both surface samples of the soil – up to two feet below the ground surface – and in subsurface soil, which is more than two feet below the surface. In general, the tests found more compounds at/below the water table (located on average between 5 to 10 feet below the ground surface on the Site). This is common at former MGP sites.
Am I safe? What are the health implications based on the kinds of contaminants that are at the Site?
We understand that people who live and go to school near the Site are concerned, and health and safety is our top priority as we work to remediate the Site. Members of the community and children who attend nearby schools are safe, because the contaminated soil is confined to the Site itself. We are carefully planning this project in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and will closely monitor the Site as we perform future work. We will make every effort to keep neighbors, the schools and other interested parties informed of our efforts.
Will the contaminants have an impact on our drinking water?
The Tidewater Site is located well away from public water supplies, which are at least one mile from the Site. The municipal drinking water system provides drinking water for the Site and surrounding neighborhood.
Will the contaminants have an impact on air quality?
Making sure that the air is safe to breathe is part of our commitment to protecting the health and safety of the people who live, work and go to school near the Tidewater Site, as well as The Narragansett Electric Company employees and contractors who work there. Unless someone digs into the soil on the Site, the contaminants have no impact on air quality.
Once we begin remediating the Site, we will monitor the air closely to make sure that contaminants do not affect air quality. If a reading exceeds the conservative limit we plan to set, we will immediately investigate the area and, if necessary, take actions such as covering the excavation or spraying water to reduce the levels until the reading drops below the limit. We will also establish a system for immediately notifying neighbors and nearby schools in the very unlikely event that it becomes necessary for people to stay indoors.
What options does The Narragansett Electric Company have for remediation?
We are committed to remediating the Site in a safe way, under the oversight of RIDEM and with involvement of the public during every stage of the process. In July 2011, The Narragansett Electric Company submitted a Remedial Alternative Evaluation(RAE) to RIDEM. The RAE described four remediation options for the Tidewater Site (for more information on the options, please click here).
Why is The Narragansett Electric Company choosing one option over another?
We recommended moving forward with one of the options because it is as effective and timely as the other evaluated alternatives at addressing the remedial goals for the Site, but poses a lower degree of implementation risk to the community during construction. This option would involve:
- Installing ground coverings, called engineered caps, across the Site.
- Installing an underground containment wall to protect the Seekonk River from the possible movement of NAPLs. NAPLs are liquids that don’t mix well with water, like vegetable oil.
- Removing MGP residuals from select areas of the Site.
The next step is for RIDEM to review the recommended plan from The Narragansett Electric Company.
We will continue to engage the community and keep all stakeholders apprised of remediation plans and activities, and we welcome feedback from the community regarding the four options and The Narragansett Electric Company’s recommended approach.
What are the potential future uses of this land/Site after remediation? Will The Narragansett Electric Company still own the Site? Have there been discussions with the city of Pawtucket?
At this point in the process, we are focused on planning and safely conducting the remediation activities. The Narragansett Electric Company currently owns the Site and intends to maintain ownership. Following approval of the remediation plan, we will work with RIDEM, the City of Pawtucket and other stakeholders to discuss possible future uses of portions of the Site. It’s important to remember that the Site will continue to house an active electrical substation and natural gas regulating station, so future uses will need to incorporate these activities.
What is a Public Involvement Plan?
Throughout our work at the Tidewater Site, both now and in the future, we’re committed to sharing information with the public. Many of the communications activities we’ve undertaken have been incorporated into the state’s first Public Involvement Plan (PIP). A PIP is an agreement between a party conducting remediation activities – in this case, The Narragansett Electric Company – and the public on how information will be shared with the community and how the public can comment on plans to remediate the Site. PIPs are tailored to specific sites and can be updated to reflect additional issues or challenges that may arise during the remediation process.
To develop the PIP for the Tidewater Site, we obtained input from community groups and residents in a variety of ways. For example, in June 2012 we conducted interviews with a number of community members on how we can best communicate information about the project to them. We also met with the Tidewater Stakeholder Group and the Environmental Justice League to discuss the activities we anticipated would be included in the PIP.
For more information about the PIP process, please click here.
How will The Narragansett Electric Company keep me abreast of the latest information regarding the contamination and work on the Tidewater Site?
The Narragansett Electric Company’s representatives regularly share up-to-date information with the community. We are making information available in a variety of ways, including through:
- Public meetings.
- Weekly/biweekly updates on the project website, at www.tidewatersite.com.
- Mailed notices to nearby property owners, tenants, principals at neighboring schools and others about our activities. We’re happy to share this information with anyone who would like it, by mail, email or both. To be added to the Site’s email list, please visit the “Contact” section of this website.
- Postings on bulletin boards at the ends of Tidewater Street and Bowles Court.
- An automated phone message alert system that notifies people who signed up for the service if air quality readings exceed the project’s limits for more than five minutes.
- Fact sheets to communicate new information and/or achievement of significant milestones.
You can access project documents we submitted to RIDEM on the Documents page of the Tidewater website or on the RIDEM website, or by visiting the Pawtucket Public Library on Summer Street. On a monthly basis, electronic versions of the documents posted on RIDEM’s website are provided to the library on a CD.
You can also call Kenneth Lento, The Narragansett Electric Company’s Tidewater Project Manager at (781) 907-3655 or email Kenneth at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
What is the gas smell near the Site? Is it harmful?
The Narragansett Electric Company is monitoring several low-grade gas leaks near the Site, which do not present a risk to public health or safety. We continue to carefully monitor the leaks and are adhering to strict Federal and State standards.
What you smell is a chemical, known as an odorant, added to natural gas before it arrives at the natural gas regulator station we operate at the Tidewater Site. Like all natural gas companies, The Narragansett Electric Company adds a harmless chemical, called mercaptan, to natural gas to create an odor before the gas is shipped to customers. Adding the odor serves an important safety role, because natural gas is typically odorless and the additive helps alert people to gas leaks. Federal and State laws mandate that gas must be detectable by a person with an average sense of smell. Federal law also requires that odorant added to a pipeline must be safe to people, pipes or other devices.