By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — One downtown area is getting cleaner by the day.
Public Works director Mike Fowler said there are minimal traces of petroleum contamination left at the downtown site known as the Difeo property.
Several oil companies called the area near Central Court home through the years, with some dating back to about 1912, Fowler said.
Back then, environmental practices for keeping land clean weren’t so clear.
“Those practices weren’t quite the same as we see today,” he said.
Fowler said Derry was part of a state mission to clean up properties with lingering petroleum contamination, with the Department of Environmental Services footing the bill.
There are several hundred similar sites across the state, he said.
All old oil tanks were previously removed and crews have taken out concrete slabs and cleaned up debris and brush.
Piles of asphalt with any potential petroleum remnants will be hauled away and incinerated.
That area of the downtown often tops a list of things people want to talk about, including town councilors who have put that on a priority list of discussion items for a joint workshop with the Planning Board on Dec. 3.
There are certain things that could be done there, Fowler said. Some would be easier to do than others. Projects requiring major excavation might still uncover scant traces of petroleum.
“They could still find some in the soil,” Fowler said.
There are eight monitoring wells at the site to keep track of any contamination. Those wells remain in place for years.
“The monitoring has to continue to keep any contamination in check,” Fowler said.
Any potential buyers of the land would need to research the risks connected with the downtown property before going forward with any major projects.
Councilors have many ideas about what might be good for that property, including building a downtown park there.
Fowler said a project like that would work without being harmful to any residents.
“The majority is cleaned up,” he said. “What is remaining is low levels of concentration.”