What is that barge doing on the Connecticut River?

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts wants to do its part and make sure the river is cleaned up

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – You may have noticed cranes and barges in the Connecticut River in the past few weeks. It is all part of the Pilot Cap Project, which is working to clean tar from the Connecticut River that was left behind decades ago.

Andrea Luppi, Manager at Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, told 22News, “Columbia Gas of Massachusetts takes the environment very seriously and any compromises we might have been responsible for, we are committed to taking care of.”

The Springfield Gas Light Company, a predecessor company to Columbia Gas, operated a plant that manufactured gas from coal from the mid 1800s to early 1900s. During this operation, liquid tar was discharged, and is still there now. The tar was found along a two-mile stretch from Riverfront Park to the South End Bridge.

Lewis Conley, Senior Project Manager at the J.F. Brennan Company Inc, told 22News, “The project is constructing ten individual caps that are made up of different types of material stone and different sizes and configurations, and five will be placed behind the Springfield Yacht Club and the other five will be near Memorial Park.”

These caps will separate the tar from the water. Columbia Gas will monitor these caps over the next two years.

There is no significant risk to human health from the tar under current conditions. There is also no risk to the environment.

All equipment should be removed from the river by Christmas.