'Minor cleanup' shouldn't delay Penguins development in Pittsburgh

| Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 6:12 p.m

Photo by Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has identified three areas on the former site of the Civic Arena that require testing for contaminants and likely a “minor cleanup” before the Penguins — or any developer — can start construction, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

The Penguins, which have exclusive development rights to the 28-acre arena site, cited environmental remediation and a $5 million funding gap as reasons the organization might seek to extend its Oct. 21 deadline to start residential construction.

Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns the property, said the Penguins should meet the deadline or cede development rights to the city.

The Penguins declined to comment.

DEP spokesman John Poister said preliminary testing uncovered three locations — a former gas station, print shop and body shop — all near Crawford Street that contain contaminated soil. He characterized cleanup as a “relatively simple job.”

“It pretty much involves soil removal and replacement,” Poister said. “Our folks don’t believe this is going to be a major impediment to development there. It’s fairly common in an urban area when you rebuild.”

He said DEP officials last week met with a team representative to outline remediation steps.

The team must test for the type and extent of contamination and submit a plan subject to DEP approval to conduct a cleanup. Poister said the soil probably contains traces of petroleum and chemicals from the former businesses.

He said DEP experts suspect cleanup would require removal of soil to a landfill and that it can be done fairly quickly. Successful remediation would permit the team to build, he said.

“This is not a big job,” Poister said.

Fred Neumeyer, president of Strip District-based Neumeyer Environmental Services Inc., said the total cost of the work is difficult to estimate at this stage.

He said Neumeyer Environmental was retained during installation of sewer piping at the arena site. Minor soil contamination required removal of dirt to a landfill at a cost of $50 per ton, Neumeyer said.

Neumeyer said he expects the Penguins to find a similar situation.

“Knowing that area, more than likely they’re not going to run into soil that’s classified as hazardous,” Neumeyer said, adding that disposal of hazardous material costs around $300 per ton.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the Penguins have no reason to delay construction.

“We’re working with Oxford (Development) on the old industrial sites along the Allegheny River up in the Strip (District) that had heavy manufacturing on them,” Peduto said. “Those environmental issues are much greater. They don’t stop a development, though.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

Original Articale – http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/10490620-74/penguins-soil-neumeyer