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Samples show underground tank produced Potsdam oil spill

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POTSDAM — The town is likely off the hook when it comes to paying for cleanup of the oil-contaminated soil found in the basement of 35 Market St.

Soil samples taken Tuesday confirm the town’s suspicion the contamination came from an oil tank buried under the sidewalk in front of the building next door, which began leaking and was removed in 1972.

The samples were taken in an attempt to prove the theory about the spill’s source was correct and the town was not at fault.

“I’m happy to report that we found it,” said Brian Jacot, a consultant with Greystone Strategies LLC, Saratoga Springs.

The town contracted with Greystone Strategies for $6,750 to study the site.

Officials discovered the oil in October as the building, the former Town Hall, was being renovated to serve as the Town Court.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation was called in to assess the contamination’s severity.

The soil samples will still have to be analyzed to confirm the source of the spill, but officials said they are confident their suspicions will be borne out.

“It looks like this is probably a formality at this point,” Mr. Jacot said.

Once the town has established the spill’s source, it can apply for reimbursement from the state spill fund for cleanup costs.

The town has already spent more than $50,000 to remove the contaminated soil.

A soil sample taken last month showed the contamination has not spread to other buildings. Mr. Jacot said it is unlikely DEC will call for further action now that the bulk of the contamination has been removed and the source has been determined.

Court renovation is slated for completion in February.

The construction of the new Town Hall also is nearing completion. Officials are planning to move the town offices to the new location by the end of January.

The town received a $2,800 rebate from St. Lawrence Gas for its efforts to make both buildings energy-efficient. The boilers purchased for the buildings are 94 percent efficient, well above the 80 percent state minimum.

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