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Locations of Gas Plants and Other Coal-tar Sites in the U.S.

THE STATE OF ARKANSAS 

Introduction

            Vast differences; an agricultural economy and non-plentiful coal, destined Arkansas to remain underdeveloped in terms of manufactured gas, throughout the history of that industry.  There may prove to be no more than 15 FMPGs in the State; located mostly along the Mississippi River, at major rail centers, and more in the southern part of the State than in its north. Eureka Springs, the late 19th century resort community, readily accessible only by railway at the time of the establishment of its oil-gas plant, in 1886, saw is gasworks go defunct by the turn of the 19th century, never to be replaced.

            Local coals were known to be adaptable for gas manufacture, but of insufficient “caking” quality, along with the minimal rail system, and a lack of iron ore, never fostered the development of either non-recovery or recovery-type coke ovens.

            The author has yet to locate his first Arkansas producer gas plant; likely explained by the undeveloped economy catering largely to fundamental timber, hardwood, canning and poultry-processing industries that were labor-intensive and not demanding of manufactured gas. Steam was utilized widely, due to the low-cost of labor and the abundance of hard-wood fuel. Likewise, the main beneficiaries of the many short-line railroads were the petroleum companies of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, who built their bulk plants in nearly every small town that was served by rail. The abundance of this cheap oil further promoted D.C. electric lighting plants, which further retarded the development of the manufactured gas industry. Eventually (1928), natural gas pipelines began to enter Arkansas, first from Oklahoma, and later, from Texas and Louisiana, and manufactured gas was doomed to one of the lowest State profiles of development. Likely the largest number of “coal-tar” sites will prove to be those of the charcoal and of the creosote wood-treatment industries, again favoring sites along the Mississippi River. Many small towns are believed to have had “gasolene” (distilled petroleum light-spirits) and acetylene gas plants, which generally did not produce toxic residuals and wastes.

Note:   Dr. Hatheway will present this paper at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists, at New Orleans, 15-20 September.

Click the blue "EPA" link below to view the
 Arkansas map of the EPA 1985 Radian FMGP Report.

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Arkansas map of Professor Hatheway's research.

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