By Seth Daniel
Excavation on the Wynn Boston Harbor property is nearly completed, and there have been only a few complaints, yet there have been a few unearthed surprises underground.
Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Design and Development, told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) last month that they are in the process of removing 500,000 tons of soils from the site, and have only about 75,000 tons left to remove, which will mean far fewer trucks and trains leaving the site. As of this week, they are mostly done with the removals.
“We are removing 500,000 tons of soil and 30 million gallons of water in the excavation process and we’re all but 75,000 tons completed with the soil removal,” he said in February. “By the end of March we’ll have less truck traffic. We’ve been removing soils for the last four or five months and we haven’t heard anything at all. So, we think the traffic circulation plan can handle what we’re doing. One issue has been that those trucks have left dirt and sediment on Lower Broadway. We have brought in a street sweeper to go back and forth on Broadway to clean that up. However, that will all be done once we finish with the excavation.”
Most of the contaminated soils, which were a point of great contention in Charlestown during the early stages of the casino debate, were removed by train and truck. Few problems, Wynn officials said, were encountered when it came to how removing the toxic soils affected the community.
One major surprise, however, was some underground facilities long forgotten, but containing asbestos piping.
“We thought we knew everything about the site with more than 2,000 test borings done, but we did find asbestos we didn’t know about,” Gordon said. “We had to find a landfill to take it to and that was in Georgia. So, we had to take all these trucks with loads of soil to Georgia. That was certainly a monkey wrench in the process…The level of contamination after all the work and borings we did was more than what we expected.”
The source of that monkey wrench came primarily in a facilities and heating plant that was buried and forgotten by everyone.
Three stories underground, remediation crews found a huge, old furnace room buried in soil that contained asbestos piping. They also found several other underground structures on the site that were unknown, as well as some dumping locations.
“The good news is that it’s all gone,” he said.
As of now, the structure of the Central Utility Plant (CUP) rises several levels, and Wynn officials expect the steel to be completed there in another few weeks – noting that they are ahead of schedule with the erecting of steel. They expect the CUP to be functioning by the summer of 2018.
Beyond the building, the bones of the harbor walk have started to be laid and the living shoreline work is in the works.
Jacqui Krum of Wynn Resorts said they just applied to the state environmental regulators, known as MEPA, for a Notice of Project Change (NPC).
“That will be focused on the sediment removal,” she said.
She said it would also focus on some changes within the development, such as the numbers of rooms increasing, that have already been detailed to the MGC. It also contains changes in the amounts of retail activity, which is scaled down from more than 50,000 sq. ft. to around 9,000 sq. ft. A good deal of that space is made up in the addition of more function space. There are also about 200 more gaming position added in the NPC, but still within the 4,000 position sphere.
Gordon added, “The good thing about the dredging is it is all off shore. Everyone comes and goes by the river. The barges come by the river. The work is on the river. The soils leave by the river.”
Gordon said they can only dredge between September and February, and they really want to get started this fall so that the work can be done in 2017-2018. He said they believe doing it in 2018-2019 would be cutting it too close.
The dredging work is likely to take about four months.