Mayor Chris Beutler today said further environmental testing on the site of the proposed Lincoln Haymarket Arena shows no new or unexpected contamination. HWS Consulting Group Inc. of Lincoln conducted previous tests on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) property and estimated the maximum cleanup cost at $7.5 million. The more extensive "phase II" tests by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed the earlier findings by HWS.
"The EPA investigation found similar contaminants to those found by HWS," Mayor Beutler said. "As a result, I asked HWS to examine the EPA test results and review their estimate. They confirmed our initial conclusion - the Arena project site environmental cleanup is manageable and well within the City's original cost estimate. We can affordably and responsibly clean up the Arena area, while creating a new entertainment and commercial district for Lincoln." HWS was founded in 1944 and has conducted environmental testing across the nation since the 1970s.
Beutler said the cleanup that would be conducted for the proposed Arena project is very similar to the process used for Haymarket Park, a cleanup project that cost the City about $300,000. He said the process is routinely used in cities to reclaim underutilized property and restore it to its highest and best use.
The Mayor said he has demanded answers and accountability on the cleanup projections because of his long time environmental convictions. "I have insisted that science, not speculation, be our guiding principle in determining the extent of the West Haymarket environmental clean-up," he said. "Two scientific studies and a review of current BNSF records covered data from 81 sampling and monitoring points on the railroad's property. The science is clear - the Arena area cleanup is both manageable and affordable."
If voters approved the Arena project May 11, Beutler said the City would participate in the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality's voluntary cleanup program that would protect the City from future federal or state environmental enforcement and reduce the City's liability.