SOUTHINGTON — A factory near the Quinnipiac River is looking for town approval to clean up oil that spilled onto the riverbank during an accident and a fire years ago.
The state requires Rex Forge, an Atwater Street manufacturer, to clean up contaminated soil as part of a company ownership transfer.
In 1998, fuel oil released from a valve flowed into the river. During a major fire in 2012, machine parts oil was released, some of which reached the Quinnipiac River.
Paul Natoli, an environmental scientist representing the company, told town officials that when the river rises it can acquire a sheen from oil that remains in the riverbanks. Natoli presented plans to remove contaminated soil at a Conservation Commission meeting earlier this month.
The 2012 fire heavily damaged the forging plant, which has been on Atwater Street since 1867. Natoli said most of the petroleum on the riverbank is from the 1998 spill.
Firefighters used a ladder pipe to spray large volumes of water on top of the fire in the Rex Forge factory on Atwater Street Tuesday morning in Southington, July 31, 2012.
James Sullivan, conservation commission chairman, said members plan to visit the Atwater Street site before deciding whether to approve the work.
“We figure it’d be easier to see the site first and understand it better,” Sullivan said.
Natoli said removing petroleum from the riverbank could be done a few different ways depending on the extent of the contamination. Sullivan is hoping for the least disruption to the river.
“That’s our primary purpose,” he said.
Sullivan said there haven’t been complaints about oil in the river.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection assigned the remediation work to Arcadis, a consulting firm with offices in Middletown. Arcadis will verify the work and submit a report for approval to the state, Natoli said.
It’s customary for a company to apply for both state and local approval simultaneously, according to Sullivan. The conservation commission also oversees inland wetlands matters.
A pump and treatment system installed by the company has collected 80 to 100 gallons of oil, according to Natoli. There’s a gravel-lined trench separating the 200,000 square-foot Rex Forge facility from the river.
Rex Forge didn’t return a call for comment.
In 2012, about 1,000 gallons of oil that spilled into the river was contained and removed.
Booms are setup across the Quinnipiac River near the canoe launch off the Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike in Southington Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. The booms were put in place to contain oil that got into the river after the Rex Forge factory fire.
In addition to the 2012 fire, the company has had other fires and accidents over the years, most recently in 2017 and 2014.