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DUNKIRK – National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. will do test borings and soil examinations this month to determine how bad the contamination is in and around the National Fuel Service Center site at West Second Street and Eagle Street, the state Department of Environmental Conservation reported.

From the late 1860s to the late 1900s, a manufactured-gas plant operated on the three-acre block, producing gas by means of coal carbonization. A byproduct of the process was coal tar, the major contaminant on the site, which contains many hazardous chemicals, including benzene, toluene and xylenes, the DEC noted. Since soil on the site is not highly permeable, the DEC added, it’s likely that the contaminants have not spread very far.

Most of the contamination is in the northeast corner of the property.

Once the study is completed, a remedial investigation report will be issued, the DEC said.

If cleanup is necessary, National Fuel will develop a number of alternatives and work with the DEC to arrive at the best approach for tackling the problem.

Public hearings will be held at each step of the remediation, according to the DEC.