What happened to the toxic chemicals at the Shipyards site?

In the past, previous plans for redevelopment were crushed because the soil was contaminated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are more questions about the Shipyards site where ground has been broken on a Four Seasons Hotel and other development is taking place along the Northbank.

In the past, previous plans for redevelopment were crushed because the soil was contaminated, and the cost to clean it up — millions of dollars — was out of reach.

A viewer named Linda sent me an email asking, “What happened to the remediation on the land at the shipyards? Have NOT heard anything on that!” The email goes on to say, “That was such a BIG thing. Extremely costly, now crickets. Hmmmmm.”

The question prompted me to ask those in charge about that. We heard from Lori Boyer, the head of the Downtown Investment Authority who has been forefront on the contracts with the Jaguars and Shipyards development.

She says, after testing and inspection of the Four Seasons’ general area, the Jaguars are addressing any required remediation — meaning they are cleaning it up.

Apparently, it’s all part of the $387 million that the Jaguars are paying for the development.

But there is more future development of the Shipyard site in question — like a segment of land next to the hotel and office complex that the Jaguars might develop later down the line. According to contractors, some of that soil is also being cleaned and cleaned.

We went back almost seven years when the city first did an assessment on this site and the other Shipyards land west of the hotel project.

In a map from 2015, there are areas of blue showing where there were levels of arsenic, a toxic chemical. The darker blue is the heaviest.

Moving farther down the riverbank to the area where the Museum of Science and History, or MOSH, is expected to go, the map shows high levels there, as well, and where the USS Orleck is set to move.

We have been told some of that area has been remediated or cleaned somewhat — at least covered with dirt.

On Thursday, we received this email from the city of Jacksonville’s Department of Public Works on where this all stands:

“The Shipyards site has undergone significant assessment and remediation activities under the regulatory purview of the FDEP. Assessment related to groundwater impacts west of Hogan Creek is on-going and site-wide semi-annual groundwater monitoring continues to be conducted at the site.

“The future design plans for the redevelopment of the site would need to employ common practices of handling contaminated materials during construction and regulatory closure methods such as ensuring a final two-foot cap of clean soils or pavement is in place over known soil impacts that may remain on site coupled with placement of an institutional control over the site. Any impacted soil or groundwater encountered during redevelopment construction activities would be properly handled, treated and/or disposed. Groundwater monitoring activities may be required in the short or long term at the site and could easily be integrated within the future development design.

“The Shipyards Site Assessment Report, along with numerous other past and more current reports and correspondence, can be found on FDEP’s online OCULUS database under their Waste Cleanup Catalog using Facility ID # ERIC_14472 and the Storage Tank Catalog using Facility ID # 8521831.″

So while we are told that this work is safe, there are still some questions about future development all along the Shipyards site — and those are things that are going to have to be answered down the line.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.