Tainted riverfront soil needs cleanup | SierraSun.com

Tainted riverfront soil needs cleanup

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Emma Garrard/Sierra SunA remedial plan for the Nevada County Corporation Yard site on West River Street will go before town council for approval. The Town of Truckee has already begun soil cleanup of contaminated soil.
ALL |

A key piece of downtown Truckee’s riverfront must undergo soil cleanup before work can begin on a proposed river plaza.

The Truckee Redevelopment Agency has targeted the former Nevada County heavy equipment storage yard at the junction of West River Street and Riverside Drive as a potential centerpiece for the Downtown River Revitalization Strategy.

But before the vacant 1.4-acre parcel can be developed, soil and groundwater contamination from its days as a county corporation yard as well as from the nearby Berry-Hinkley/Chevron fueling station must be remediated.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board has ordered Berry-Hinkley and Chevron to treat the hydrocarbon-contaminated groundwater. The work commenced earlier this month, according to town staff reports.

The first step in the eight-week remedial project involves erecting a screen fence, boring, trenching, and short-term groundwater treatment, according to the report.

In the second phase, scheduled to commence in September, contractors will pump ozone and oxygen into the contaminated groundwater.

“The technique of pumping ozone and oxygen into the ground has two purposes ” one is the ozone breaks down the hydrocarbon (petroleum product) and two, to enhance the natural microbial growth that use the hydrocarbons as a food source,” said Senior Engineer Geologist Richard Booth with the water board. “The result are smaller molecules that are not dangerous.”

He said the contamination plume, which extends to roughly 100 feet from the Truckee River, has been well documented in its size and scope, and has already undergone initial treatment.

The ozone and oxygen treatment will continue for about a year, or until the pollutants are reduced to a level acceptable to the water board, Booth said.

With cleanup under way, the redevelopment agency will begin looking for a developer this summer or fall to construct a mixed-use project with a public plaza, said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook.

“We had hoped to put out a [request for proposals] out a long time a go, but we’ve been held up by the cleanup,” Lashbrook said. “This project is scene as a way to kick-start the whole river effort.”

The planned River Plaza would give public access to the Truckee River’s north bank, and include a pedestrian bridge across the river to connect with the planned Truckee River Legacy Trail and future development on the Bright Property.

Lashbrook said the town will also look to aid certain businesses to relocate from West River Street to more compatible industrial areas like Pioneer Commerce Center as part of the River Revitalization Strategy.

“Some have already moved,” Lashbrook said. “The Auto Doctor is now in Pioneer, but overall we’ve been hard-pressed to find businesses willing to move.”

As part of that effort, Lashbrook said the town has received federal grants to offer low-interest loans to help businesses move.