Fort Wayne Manufactured Gas Plant

Photo taken in 1955

Fort Wayne Gas Plant

Welcome to the community web page for the cleanup of environmental impacts from the manufactured gas plant once located east of Barr Street on both sides of Superior Street in Fort Wayne.

We are providing this page as we undertake remedial activities in the St. Marys River adjacent to the former gas plant location. The work is the latest effort to address impacts from gas manufacturing operations so that the site meets current environmental standards.

Manufactured gas - a major energy source

The manufactured gas plant, or MGP, operated from 1851 until 1948, producing “town gas” by heating coal, coke, and/or oil in a closed vessel. The gas was captured and cleaned of impurities before being stored in large round structures known as gas holders. Town gas was distributed first for lighting streets, homes and businesses, and then for heating and cooking.

Plant Photo from 1913

Photo taken in 1913

Restoring the environment

As part of our commitment to protect the environment and be a good neighbor, we have a program to evaluate environmental conditions where MGPs were located and take remedial actions when necessary. We have entered the former industrial site into the state’s Voluntary Remediation Program, in which the Indiana Department of Environmental Management oversees the project to ensure that the remedy achieves a satisfactory level of human health and environmental protection. In addition, we have coordinated our plans with the City of Fort Wayne and obtained permits from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.

While operating, the manufactured gas process typically created byproducts or residues. One common byproduct was coal tar, a dense, oily liquid that would condense out of the gas at various stages during production and distribution. This tar and its impacts to soil, sediment, groundwater and surface water have been the focus of the Barr Street MGP project.

St. Marys River cleanup

Contractors hired by NIPSCO will address the river impacts in a 3 to 4-month project beginning in October 2018. Project components consist of:

  • Dredging the top two feet of river sediment in a limited area of the river. Dredged material will be prepared for offsite transport on the Parks and Recreation Department’s Old Fort property.
  • Installing in the dredged area a cap consisting of clay and a mat that is designed to capture and isolate any tarry material that has seeped from the riverbank on the west. Pilot tests performed in 2008-2018 indicate that the mat is an effective isolation technique that can reduce sheens and odors experienced once in a while on the river. The mat will be topped with gravel and rip-rap to protect it from river flow.
  • Making improvements to a City combined-sewer outfall and the surrounding riverbank on the west to prevent migration of any potential tarry seepage through this corridor and halt erosion on the bank.
Project Site Aerial View

How river restoration will affect the neighborhood

The restoration project will provide a stabilized riverbank, improved water quality with enhanced habitat for aquatic species, and a more enjoyable experience for people in the vicinity of this part of the St. Marys.

While work is in progress, people in the area will experience some changes in their usual activities.

  • Access to the Old Fort will be available, and work will be halted for its scheduled events;
  • The St. Marys Pathway will have posted detours;
  • Roadway safety measures, including signs, flaggers and no trucks during rush hours, will be implemented as needed;
  • Intersection of Duck and Barr Street will be closed from October 1 to December 1. Detour through adjacent city-owned parking lot in front of the ice skating rink is available and signs will be posted;
  • River channel access will be closed from September 24 to December 24.

Additional measures to minimize effects on the neighborhood include methods to reduce occasional tarry odors and an air monitoring program.

Note that the schedule may change if the river experiences high water levels. If there are major schedule changes, we will post current information here.

 

Milestones

Remaining

  • Combined sewer outfall improvements and riverbank restoration adjacent to Hall's Restaurant parking lot concludes
  • Sediment dredging and capping in St. Mary's River completed
  • Pedestrian detour ends
  • Project equipment removed from Old Fort Property
  • Restoration of Old Fort Property completed

Completed

None yet.

Learn more