Dover Gas Plant, Dover, New Hampshire
The Dover Gas Plant in Dover, New Hampshire was constructed in 1859 and remained in operation until 1948. During this time, the primary purpose of the plant was to produce and purify gas for the city; this process involving burning coal to distill gas. The plant was originally owned by the Dover Gas Light Company, but subsequently owned by many different companies over the years.
Unfortunately, the purification process used by the Dover Gas Plant produced a number of byproducts, some of them toxic. In 1986, the Environmental Protection Agency began a Preliminary Assessment of the site. It has since been declared a Superfund site, meaning that the EPA believes it requires extensive cleanup.
When the plant was closed, most of its buildings were demolished and some waste products were buried on the site. This waste included tar, coal oil, a coal residue known as coke, and an acid that has not been identified by the EPA. The risk of burying waste products is that they can seep into groundwater and contaminate a community’s water supplies.
In addition to groundwater contamination, there is some concern about the use of asbestos at the Dover Gas Plant. During the time it was in operation, asbestos was a very common component of power plants. Its durability and flame resistance made it popular for insulation and other purposes. However, asbestos is a dangerous substance that has been linked to major illnesses such as mesothelioma.
When older worksites are demolished or cleaned, it is very important for workers to be aware of every potential hazard they may face. If you have worked in or lived near a power plant of any kind constructed before 1987, it is important to be informed about the potential risks of asbestos.