Dover Gas Plant

The Dover Gas Plant is in Dover, New Hampshire, on Cocheco Street. The facility is privately owned and sits on one acre. The plant was built in 1850. It served for 110 years as a power plant. The Dover site was a coal gasification plant that produced gas from coal. The gas was used to power the street lamps in Dover. Today, Dover Gas Plant is used to store equipment, and the land is used to store boats.

In 110 years, the plant changed ownership several times. Dover Gas Light Company, United Gas and Electric Company, Twin State Gas and Electric Company, Public Service Company (New Hampshire), Gas Services Incorporated, Allied New Hampshire Gas Company, and Northern Utilities all owned the plant at one point during this period. After the plant closed, it was demolished, except for the brick garage. Workers removed steel and iron scraps. They buried coal tar, coke, coal oil and other materials on the site.

While the plant was in operation, it was a large source of contamination. It created hazardous byproducts, such as coal slag, light oils, coal-tar distillates, middle oils, heavy oils, indene, and coke, among others. Because some materials were buried when the plant was torn down, the site created even more contamination.  The drinking water is particularly worrisome to residents of Dover. More than 35,000 people live within a four-mile radius of the plant. The EPA is also concerned about contamination, even though access to the property is restricted, and has declared it a Superfund clean-up site.

In addition to the other toxins they encountered, workers likely used asbestos to build the Dover Gas Plant for its fire-resistant properties. After it was demolished, asbestos particles and fibers were released into the atmosphere. Asbestos is a natural mineral that has proven to be the cause of many serious illnesses, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and asbestos cancer.  Today, people who work with asbestos must take certain precautions as directed by their employer and the federal government. However, years ago, people handled the material and breathed its toxic fibers without using protective equipment. They also carried the material home on their clothes and possibly endangered their families through second-hand exposure.