DES and Fire Department Respond to Length of Gas Spill Cleanup

Most Londonderry residents are likely to remember the gasoline and diesel spill that occurred last December along Rockingham Road near North Elementray School, as well as the subsequent efforts to excavate the material from the ground, which redirected traffic for months.

Although most of the work to remove the material has been completed, the question now comes down to just how much longer these efforts will last.

To recap the original spill, it began when a Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) truck overturned, spilling roughly 11,000 gallons of gas and diesel onto the side of the road. Upon responding to the incident, the Fire Department, led by Battalion Four Chief Jim Rogers, spread Class B foam to suppress any vapors coming from the affected areas to prevent any potential ignition. The Fire Department was also assisted by the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Services, among others.

Over the next several months, the National Response Corporation worked to excavate and remediate the land, pulling out as much material as possible before testing the surrounding soil for any possible remnants of gas or diesel. The Fire Department was also stationed by the excavation crew whenever it occurred, on the off-chance of the product igniting.

While the affected land seems to be returning to normal, the sheer length of the process has raised a few eyebrows. Initially scheduled to only take five weeks, Rogers noted that excavation took longer than expected due to the winter months making the soil colder and harder to work through. He also stated that the DES has strict standards that need to be met before considering an incident to be placid.

Even with excavation seemingly complete and grass beginning to return to the land, testing will still be continuing indefinitely as a precaution. According to Jim Martin, a representative with the DES, they are currently sampling test wells which determine how much of the spilled product may be in the soil and local water wells. They will then work with a consultant of theirs who will give the final say on whether or not testing can desist. Martin stated that although the spill was not the biggest he has seen in the state, it was still rather large and it will be some time before testing will stop.

However, on a more positive note, Martin said that tests in the past several months have failed to find any traces of gas and diesel in the area. He stated that the town was “hugely helpful throughout the cleanup process.”

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