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Testing at new Saints ballpark site yields unexpected contamination

New St. Paul Saints ballpark

City officials knew that the site of a new St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) ballpark was polluted, but further testing indicates far more contamination on the site than originally anticipated.

Before it hosted a manufacturing plant, the Lowertown site hosted a coal gasification plant, where coal was converted to coal gas, which could then be refined for a variety of other uses. It’s a nasty process leading to lots of contamination, but it was a known factor when city and team officials decided to build a ballpark on the site.

The unknown, though, was the specific extent of the contamination. Further testing has yielded far more contamination than originally anticipated, and that finding will probably impact the ballpark budget. Right now $5 million has been set aside for remediation, and city officials are seeking another $8.8 million to address overages. Another unexpected cost: the cost of rerouting sewer lines in the area. From the Pioneer Press:

“It’s certainly going to add to the budget we had for cleanup,” Johnson said. “The cleanup costs are going to be more.”

Joe Campbell, a spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, confirmed that the city recently learned the results of soil tests would add to the cost of environmental remediation, as would underground sewer improvements.

“We don’t really know a whole lot yet,” Campbell said. He added that city officials expect to be able to comment more extensively later this week.

The new issues aren’t expected to impact the ballpark opening in 2015.

Image courtesy City of St. Paul.

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