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Santa Rosa council seeks more information on downtown PG&E cleanup


Members of the Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday demanded more information about the status of a long-delayed cleanup project on the banks of Santa Rosa Creek downtown.

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 were described in a March 24 story in The Press Democrat.

“From the little bit I’ve read, it raises alarm bells,” Councilman Gary Wysocky said.

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)

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)

He made reference to recent news from Arkansas, where an Exxon pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil from Illinois to Texas leaked, forcing the evacuation of 22 homes.

Wysocky called the Santa Rosa site a “tar ball right next to the creek there,” and said he wanted more information about the cleanup efforts.

“I just think it could be an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

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.

Tons of contaminated material has since been removed under the direction of the North Coast Water Quality Control Board. PG&E estimates it has spent tens of millions to clean up the site. But much work remains, including the possible construction of a cut-off wall to prevent the migration of contamination into the creek.

The human health risks from the contamination are likely low, given the fact that it is covered by a parking lot and no drinking water wells are in the area, people familiar with the site say.

PG&E says there is no indication any contamination is currently reaching the creek, and it is committed to a cleanup project that is “best for the environment and the community.”

But Councilman Jake Ours said he believed the utility needed to be pressured to continue moving forward on the project.

“If you don’t keep PG&E’s feet to the fire, they won’t do anything,” Ours said. “It’s a very serious problem and it’s going to take a lot of money to fix.”

City Manager Kathy Millison said she had been in touch with PG&E officials and they were willing to provide additional information about the project to the council.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @citybeater.

9 Responses to “Santa Rosa council seeks more information on downtown PG&E cleanup”

  1. Snarky says:


    And how would YOU know what Wysocki has read? lol

    Wysocki, as a Certified Public Accountant, is the only person the council who actually understand what tax dollars mean.

    You can’t BS him. Maybe thats why you hate him?

  2. Caller says:

    Why is Wysocky the bully asking for more info when he only read a tiny bit?

  3. Steveguy says:

    I smell a rat. I think that any and all criticisms of PG&E will be ramped up by the supporters of Sonoma Clean Power advocates and beneficiaries of the hundreds of millions in the trough.

    There may not be a hard copy memo, but I KNOW that there are behind the scenes planning of tactics to discredit PG&E before the Sonoma Clean Power comes to a vote. They are already planning to take over and will do anything to get the $$$$$$$$$$$.

    PG&E id fine by me, not perfect, but we did ruin them in the de-regulation scam.

  4. Inside Nine says:

    Nobody can hold PG&E’s feet to the fire. Better yet, shackle them and place these crooks where they belong. They are as slippery as it gets. Jail time is too good for them. I say lets get PG&E management out there to clean up their disasters.

  5. Snarky says:

    Mockingbird said:

    “Amazing that people don’t seem to know where the insidious disease of cancer comes from….”

    Cancer is not one disease…

    nor are cancers all caused by one specific agent. Sorry to pop the bubble.

  6. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Amazing that people don’t seem to know where the insidious disease of cancer comes from, or autoimmune diseases that make so many people’s lives miserable.

    Yes, let’s leave it there to continue to pollute the creek and the grounds surrounding the site. Let it leach into the creek to run downstream and do environmental damage. Let it leach into underground aquifers and pollute people’s wells. Let it poison the wildlife that use the creek.

    Who really cares, as long as we take away government employees’ pensions because the rest of us don’t have them. That’s the more important issue.

  7. Grapevines says:

    Well lets see, it’s been 26 years and it hasn’t started glowing in the dark yet. There are no wells in the area that it contaminates. And unless it’s an environmental hazard that will blossom forth and destroy all life within a large area; isn’t this just jousting with windmills?

    Tell the city council to address something more pressing, like public employee pensions, lighting, street repair, etc. Lets quit trying to create giants to slay and distract the public from what is really at fault.

  8. Brown Act Jack says:

    Why is it a danger?

    Been there since the 1920s and now sealed up.

    Oh, it might get loose and cause trouble!

    Or, rather, we can force PGandE to spend money for something that the city should have taken care of when the building was built!

  9. James Bennett says:

    This should get interesting.

    An ICLEI adherent town holding PG&E’s feet to fire?

    Yeah, right.