Potrero Power Plant
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Former Potrero Manufactured Gas Plant Remediation Site?
The project site is in San Francisco's central waterfront area at 1201 Illinois Street. It is about 34 acres in size. It is bordered by 23rd Street to the south, Illinois Street to the west, the Pier 70 site to the north and San Francisco Bay to the east.
What is the Site's history?
The Site and area have hosted industrial uses since the mid-1800s. Some of the historic uses on and near the Site included ship building and repair, foundries, sugar refining and barrel making. PG&E operated a manufactured gas plant (MGP) in the northeastern part of the Site from the 1870s to the 1930s. A power plant, commonly referred to as the Potrero Power Plant, was built in the 1910s. It was upgraded in the 1960s. PG&E sold the power plant to Southern Company (Associate Capital is the current owner) in 1999. PG&E retained portions of the Site for such uses as an electrical switchyard and storage. The plant was shut down in March 2011 after the completion of the Trans Bay Cable project. This allowed power generated in Pittsburg to be sent across the Bay to San Francisco. While PG&E no longer owns the power plant, we are taking responsibility for the impact of our former operations.
What is a manufactured gas plant?
In the mid-1800s and early 1900s, more than 1,500 manufactured gas plants (MGPs) were located in cities and towns across the country. These plants used coal and oil to produce gas for lighting, heating and cooking. When natural gas began to being used for energy in the 1930s, these PG&E gas plants closed.
What are the environmental impacts at the Site?
The Site has a long history of industrial use and related impacts. The primary impacts are due to leftover MGP residues, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Heavy metals have also been detected in soil, along with naturally occurring asbestos, both of which can be related to fill material or the serpentine bedrock. Petroleum hydrocarbons have been found in soil and groundwater.
What is the status of the cleanup?
PG&E has made lots of progress. The project site was split into seven work areas. This has helped move forward the cleanup in areas without aboveground structures. PG&E has finished work in three areas:
- Hoe Down Yard (PG&E owned)
- Switchyard/General Construction Yard (PG&E owned)
- Station A Area (largely owned by Associate Capital owned)
Work is moving forward in the:
- Northeast Area (Associate Capital owned, but also includes a portion of Pier 70)
- Offshore Sediment Area
- Tank Farm Area (Associate Capital owned)
- Power Generation Area, including the smoke stack (Associate Capital owned)
After the cleanup is complete, what will the site be used for?
The areas of the Site owned by PG&E, such as the Switchyard and General Construction Yard, will continue to operate as PG&E facilities. The Hoe Down Yard (Equipment Storage and Construction Area) is being used by PG&E; however, we are looking into relocating this yard with the Port of San Francisco. This would allow this area to be redeveloped. The former Power Plant portion of the Site is owned by Associate Capital, who will decide its future.
Who owns the former Potrero Power Plant?
PG&E sold the Potrero Power Plant in April 1999 to Southern Company. Associate Capital is the current owner. Other areas near the power plant, such as the Switchyard and General Construction Yard Areas, are owned by PG&E.
Why is PG&E cleaning up the former Potrero Power Plant?
While PG&E no longer owns the former Potrero Power Plant, we are taking responsibility for the impact of our operations.
Who is overseeing the cleanup?
The Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region. PG&E also receives input and approvals from many local, state and federal agencies.
Are there health risks to the community as a result of impacts?
No, all information that we have collected to date shows that there are no current health risks to the public resulting from impacts.
What formal procedures has PG&E put in place in order to ensure community members have an opportunity to provide input to cleanup plans?
We aim to keep the community informed of our work. Our outreach includes newsletters, community meetings and door-to-door outreach. In addition, the Water Board has its own outreach process to collect public comments on cleanup plans before they are approved.
There is no indication that PG&E's former MGP sites pose any health concerns to the public, based on our testing, experience, and extensive review of medical literature.