A proposed land exchange between the Petersburg borough and fuel company Petro Marine could take more investigation this fall or winter.
Borough manager Steve Giesbrecht updated the assembly on that swap Monday. He said an engineer has completed what’s called a phase one environmental assessment. That’s meant interviews with people involved with the Petro property in the past, a review of photos of the land and building and a review of the report on cleanup by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC.
Giesbrecht said the engineer found three areas of possible concern on Petro’s land. Those are a concrete slab which used to hold petroleum tanks, some 55 gallon drums and an old heating tank. The manager explained the biggest potential problem is the concrete slab on the east side of the property.
“DEC isn’t too worried about it,” Giesbrecht told the assembly, adding, “but they weren’t getting very specific. DEC had cleared the property but primarily was speaking of the west side of the lot. They just didn’t really answer any questions about the east side and it appears the east side has never been really looked at. The engineer made it very clear in his comment that he’s never known a tank farm that didn’t leak but in viewing it didn’t see any obvious signs of petroleum byproducts. Just to be careful, none of what I’m talking about is confirmed by testing. This is all pure observational and this is what a phase one is.”
The consultant recommended a phase two assessment, monitoring the site and testing for signs of pollution. That’s roughly estimated to cost around 27,000 dollars and could take about 8-10 weeks to complete. Giesbrecht said he provided the phase one report to Petro and is asking the company if it will pay for the monitoring.
“The instructions that I gave to the attorney at this point is if Petro agrees to pay the full cost then we can move forward,” he said. “If they don’t, then I’ll bring it back to the assembly and the assembly can weigh in on whether we should proceed or not.”
Petro proposed the exchange of land and a building it owns on South Nordic Drive just across from the community cold storage. In exchange Petro is seeking property it leases from the borough, the site of a gas station on South Nordic and the warehouse behind it.
The Petro property includes the site of the old Union Oil or AFS tank farm. The site was contaminated by leaking heating oil and cleaned up. In 2012, the DEC signed off on the clean-up work. The harbor department wants the Petro building for a centralized site to maintain all three harbors.
The borough is also are testing for mold in the building that Petro would give to the borough and is waiting for results back from the lab. The assembly has been split over this exchange but has agreed to go forward with negotiations. They’ll still have to vote on the final terms of any deal, once the borough has all the information.