PG&E says it has plan for polluted site on Santa Rosa creek

  • Cleanup efforts continue at a site of a former gas production plant near Santa Rosa Creek, in downtown Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. officials began holding private meetings with members of the Santa Rosa City Council Thursday to assuage concerns about the utility's work on a contaminated property along Santa Rosa Creek.

A team of five PG&E environmental and government affairs specialists met with three council members at City Hall Thursday to answer questions and provide information about plans to address the polluted soil and ground water at the downtown site.

Councilwoman Julie Combs, who attended a meeting along with Councilman Gary Wysocky and Planning Commissioner Curtis Byrd, praised the utility for its willingness to meet, but said she was concerned the council hadn't been kept in the loop on the project.

"They agreed that they could have done a better job reaching out to the council members with information," Combs said.

Regulators have been pressing for 26 years to have pollution removed from the site of a former PG&E manufactured gas plant at First and B streets. The efforts, which have been under way for several years, were outlined in a March 24 story in The Press Democrat.

Waste products from the manufactured gas process, including lamp black and coal tar, have been found in significant volumes on the site, as well as leaking underground fuel storage tanks. The plant was dismantled in 1924, the waste products buried, and the property later sold to developers who built a four-story office building on it in 1989.

PG&E estimates it has spent tens of millions to clean up the site under the direction of the North Coast Water Quality Control Board.

Jake Ours, who met separately with PG&E officials, said they provided a significant amount of information but not enough to satisfy him that the project will fully protect the creek from the contaminants.

"My main concern is keeping the hydrocarbons out of the creek and out of the water that we worked so hard to clean up," Ours said, referring to the city's $25 million Prince Memorial Greenway Project.

Part of the problem is that the utility hasn't decided exactly how to go about protecting the creek. It has considered building a 450-foot-long impermeable cutoff wall around the site, but officials are rethinking the $9 million project.

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