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Manufactured Gas Plants

TestAmerica Assists With Legacy Challenges At Manufactured Gas Plants

TestAmerica has been a leader in providing laboratory services for MGP programs for more than 20 years.  We offer all of the required test methods for water, soil, sediment and air on a very fast turnaround time.  Time sensitive decisions are required for the disposal of excavated soil, the use of clean backfill, to optimize the use of heavy equipment and to demonstrate that general ambient air quality is acceptable.  TestAmerica uses local courier services for the delivery of sampling equipment and to pick up samples, and provides data in near real time through TotalAccess®, our 24/7 on-line data portal.

Manufactured gas plant (MGP) operations began in the United States in the late 1800s and ceased operations in the 1950s. Manufactured gas was produced locally from coal, coal/oil mixtures, or from petroleum.  It served as a community’s primary source of gas fuel, before the development of natural gas systems, for heating, lighting and cooking.  There were an estimated 50,000 manufactured gas plants that operated in the United States between the 1800s and the 1950s.

MGPs were often located along a river at the edge of a town or city.  Today, legacy MGP sites are often surrounded by parks, residential housing and/or industry.  MGP structures and equipment were generally dismantled decades ago but the legacy environmental issues associated with coal tar and other byproducts may remain.  The substances of concern related to MGP operations include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals.  BTEX compounds are volatile hydrocarbons found in MGP byproducts and also found in most petroleum products such as gasoline. PAHs are also found in MGP byproducts as well as many petroleum products, such as asphalt.

Utilities generally maintain ownership of the sites since today’s large utility companies formed over the years through the merger of many small, local gas companies. 

Ambient and Indoor Air

Air monitoring stations may be used to evaluate the general air quality at the perimeter of the site.  TestAmerica provides sampling equipment such as canisters, tubing, filters and sorbent materials for the collection of samples that will be sent to an offsite laboratory.  Test methods typically include TO-13 for PAHs, TO-15 for VOCs and filters for the collection and analysis of particulates and metals.

TestAmerica also provides equipment and testing services for indoor air and soil gas testing to determine if subsurface MGP contamination is negatively impacting indoor air quality in surrounding buildings.  To learn more, please visit our Air section.  Please click on the following links to download detailed guidance concerning Summa Canister SamplingSoil Gas Sampling Instructions and Field Leak Testing Procedures.

Soil, Sediment and Water

Many states have regulations that are broader in scope than the federal regulations for the management of MGP soil and sediment.  TestAmerica works with consultants, contractors and regulatory agencies to select and use the appropriate methods for the analysis of soil and sediment samples. 

Surface and groundwater samples may be collected as part of MGP investigation and remediation programs, depending on the location of nearby creeks or rivers, if groundwater has been impacted or if rain events occur during the clean-up process.  Drinking water samples will generally be collected only if sources of drinking water are impacted.