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New process to be used in removing coal tar in Ottawa

Posted by wlpo on October 2, 2014

Standing along the bank of the Illinois River in Ottawa you see grassy hills and a park, not an environmental hazard. Coal tar is buried nearly 20 feet below the surface. The contamination was created by a long-gone coal gasification plant and it must be removed if Ottawa is to redevelop the riverfront.

For the removal, the city, Nicor Gas, ComEd and the Illinois EPA want to use an experimental method dubbed STAR. The plan is to destroy the coal tar by burning it away underground. Traditionally, coal tar is removed through excavation and destroyed in a kiln.

Bernie Anderson of Nicor Gas says air will be pumped into the coal tar so it can burn. The gases released by the coal tar will be collected by pipes and treated before being released. He says they’ll be tracking the progress to make sure it’s working.

Officials say you wouldn’t be able to see or smell the experimental process.

The STAR process is scheduled to begin October 14. Anderson says it is expected to be completed in late November.

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