Seward City Hall

Efforts are underway to address soil contamination in the ground on which the current Public Works warehouse stands at 434 Sixth Avenue. At last Monday’s City Council meeting, R&M Consultants Senior Geologist Chris Fell offered a presentation before Council regarding the his firm’s findings on the site.

The results of the R&M study concluded that several areas of concern require attention. After performing a battery of tests on the property, including soil borings to groundwater, field screening, soil sampling and analytical testing, it was determined that a number of contaminants were present. According to the presentation, among the materials found which exceeded levels required for cleanup were diesel-range organics, residual-range organics, volatile organic compounds, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It is understood that the contaminants are the result of petroleum handling protocols historically practiced at the site, which has housed the Public Works facility since 1964, long before environmental standards had evolved to their current state.

Of particular concern is the maintenance shop, which features a central floor drain with unknown discharge. This, according to Fell, presents a variety of unknown conditions regarding the extent and degree of contamination.

“[The drain] is driving further investigation and remediation planning at the site,” Fell told the Journal on Tuesday.

Other areas of concern include several storage tanks and the presence of large drums containing unknown substances. Plans for abatement and further investigation are currently underway even as relocation efforts to move the Public Works facility to the area along Dieckgraeff Road have entered the early planning stages. Although hazardous material removal will ultimately be necessary regardless of when the facility moves, relocation is not necessary in order to complete removal efforts.

“Building relocation is not needed from an environmental standpoint,” said Fell.

Further updates on removal efforts and facility relocation will be provided as information becomes available.