By Tracy Correa
BAKERSFIELD – Demolition of the remaining structures and cleanup at the former Kern Power Plant will begin in March, PG&E officials announced alongside local government officials Monday (Dec. 12) at a press conference and tour at the site.
“This represents a public, full-fledged commitment from PG&E,” said Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard in thanking the company for making progress at the site.
Bakersfield City Council Member and Vice Mayor David Couch also thanked PG&E for working with community leaders in cleaning up the plant site located on 150 acres at the intersection of Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway
Comments from Maggard and Couch followed remarks by Cindy Pollard, a PG&E manager of government relations, and Thomas Allen, director of PG&E’s new generation construction.
“I’m happy to say we do have a plan to take this plant down,” said Allen as he pointed to the massive concrete plant behind him.
The plan discussed Monday has two stages: Demolition begins in March and should take about a year. Remediation or cleanup of the site will follow and could take several years.
The former Kern Power Plant went into operation in 1948 and was shut down in 1985 when it went into stand-by status. In 1995, it was permanently closed.
In 2000, PG&E began the process of selling the site, but the sale with North American Power Group fell through. A subsequent attempt to sell the site to World Oil Corp., which owns property south of the site, ended this summer.
PG&E acknowledged community concerns about the delays in removing the former power plant after both deals fell through and has committed to cleaning up the property.
A thorough investigation of the plant property in the early 2000s showed that some soil had been contaminated by limited metals and petroleum hydrocarbons, and PG&E removed that soil at that time.
The company continues to work with regulators on cleanup plans.
A few months ago, PG&E assured community stakeholders that it was in the process of demolishing four cooling towers on the Coffee Road side of the property and removing three metal storage structures. The cooling towers and storage buildings were removed in the fall.
The next steps are to:
- Deconstruct the site by first removing the main concrete power plant.
- Dismantle the four fuel tanks along Rosedale Highway as well the remaining structures on the site.
- Remove all piping systems and pumps.
PG&E will continue to operate the existing electrical substation on 30 acres of land on the 150-acre site.
The second phase of the updated cleanup plans are to:
- Continue additional investigations to better characterize the site where PG&E has access today and moving forward.
- Conduct a careful assessment of the site (already under way)
- Investigate past environmental studies and begin new ones to ensure a thorough understanding of environmental conditions at the site
Allen said the public will notice a very visible sign that the work has begun when the main power plant structure is covered with a tent to seal in dust and debris prior to demolition.
He also said PG&E plans to recycle during the process. “Our intent is to recycle as much as we can… concrete, steel and copper.”