Tropical Storm Irene’s impacts are still being dealt with along the Connecticut River. The storm deposited a 3,000-gallon fuel tank, which settled along the river bottom in Weathersfield. The tank was first identified in 2015 by Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) member Paul Beaulieau, and the CRC brought it to the attention of Marie Caduto, a Basin Planner with the Watershed Management Division (WSMD). It took over three years before the tank could finally be removed.
First, the team needed to determine if the tank still contained fuel before it could be breached or moved. A contractor was hired, with assistance from the State’s Petroleum Cleanup Fund, to assess the tank and its contents for potential safety and environmental hazards. The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge provided staff and a boat to get to the tank, and the contractor confirmed it did not contain fuel, making removal possible.
Next, CRC coordinated the contracting of a second firm, capable of underwater deconstruction, to dive the river, weld a hole, and pump the tank full of air, releasing it from the sediment and floating it downriver to a town access. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provided a boat and winch equipment to haul the tank up the beach to where Town of Weathersfield staff and trucks were able to load and haul it away.
The extraordinary team comprised of the CRC, WSMD, Waste Management Division – Contaminated Sites Program, USFWS, Town of Weathersfield, and Department of Environmental Conservation’s ECO AmeriCorps program, all dedicated to the health of the Connecticut River, has taken another commendable step toward restoring this cherished resource.