"A toxic liquid has been creeping through the soil of cities in the mid-Hudson Valley for more than a century. From the 1800s to the 1950s, manufactured gas plants in places such as Newburgh, Kingston and Poughkeepsie provided light and heat to thousands who walked city streets and lived in city homes.
But an industrial byproduct from those plants — a black or reddish-brown liquid known as coal tar — eventually leaked into the ground through faulty storage tanks or sewage pipes. Over the decades, coal tar trickled beneath our feet until it found places to settle.
Now it pollutes soil and water in the Hudson River, Delaware River and Rondout Creek.
Utility companies that ran manufactured gas plants were compelled to clean up their mess when New York passed stricter environmental laws in 1995 that classified coal tar as hazardous waste. Now those gas and electric groups are cleaning up more than 250 coal-tar pollution sites across the state.
All told, the projects are expected to cost nearly $3 billion, making them the third most expensive environmental cleanup happening in the state. Only removal of PCBs from the Hudson and waste from Onondaga Lake are more expensive."