By Sacramento Bee
After years of rewrites and delays, state environmental officials in early July approved a long-awaited plan for toxic cleanup of the central shops section of the downtown Sacramento railyard.
The state authorization is seen as a key step in readying the 240-acre railyard for development as an extension of downtown with housing, offices and stores, as well as a major railroad technology museum.
But the state’s decision left one major downtown player upset – the railyard’s current owner, Inland American Real Estate Trust.
Inland and Sacramento city officials had lobbied the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to require former railyard owner Union Pacific to cover any future costs for as-yet undiscovered extra contamination in the central shops area.
If not, an Inland spokesman said, potential developers and builders may shy away from investing in the railyard, fearing they might have to pick up the tab if more toxic substances are found on the parcels they plan to develop.
“All future developers and landowners must have the certainty that Union Pacific will have the full responsibility to clean up historic contamination so the (railyard redevelopment plan) can be fulfilled,” Inland spokesman Jared Ficker wrote in an email.
“We do not believe this (cleanup plan) provides the certainty that others … will not have to bear the costs of cleaning up some of Union Pacific’s legacy.”
Several recent surprise contamination finds already are in dispute. When digging for new train passenger platforms last year, city workers unearthed a large container of contaminated soil and a buried tank.
The city has called on UP to pay those cleanup costs.
For their part, Department of Toxic Substances Control officials said Wednesday they intend to hold UP “100 percent responsible” for carrying out all agreed-upon cleanup of known contamination. But they said they do not have the legal right to issue a blanket requirement that UP pay for any future contamination discoveries. Source; Sacramento Bee