Potrero Power Plant
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Former Potrero Manufactured Gas Plant Remediation Site?
The site is located in San Francisco's central waterfront area at 1201 Illinois Street. It is approximately 34 acres in size and 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 adjacent area have been used for industrial activities 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 and its predecessors operated a manufactured gas plant (MGP) in the northeastern portion 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 and upgraded and expanded in the 1960s. PG&E sold the power plant property to Southern Company (Associate Capital is the current owner) in 1996, while retaining portions of the site for such uses as an electrical switchyard and storage. The plant was shut down in March 2011 following the completion of the Trans Bay Cable project, which allowed power generated in Pittsburg to be transferred across the Bay to San Francisco. While PG&E no longer owns the Potrero 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, before natural gas was available as an energy source, 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. With the arrival of natural gas in the 1930s, most of the manufactured gas plant sites in California were no longer needed and were closed.
What are the environmental impacts at the Site?
The site has a long history of industrial use and has environmental impacts associated with this industrial past. The primary impacts at the site are associated with leftover MGP residues, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Heavy metals have also been detected in site soil, along with naturally occurring asbestos, both of which can be associated with fill material or the serpentinite bedrock located beneath the site and surrounding area. Petroleum hydrocarbons have been found in soil and groundwater.
What is the status of the remediation of the property?
PG&E has made significant progress on the environmental investigation and remediation of the former Potrero Power Plant site. The site has been divided into seven work areas to facilitate the remediation process. PG&E has finished remediation in three of the seven work areas—the PG&E-owned Hoe Down Yard, the Switchyard/General Construction Yard and Station A Area, which is largely owned by Associate Capital. Work is progressing in the four remaining areas: the Northeast Area (including a portion of the Pier 70 property), the Offshore Sediment Area, the Tank Farm Area and the former Power Generation Area.
After the remediation and cleanup of the site is complete, what will the site be used for? How will future uses of the site be incorporated into the City’s plan to redevelop this area of San Francisco and the adjacent Pier 70 property?
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 (Equipment Storage and Construction) Yard is also currently being used by PG&E; however, we are exploring the possibility of relocating this yard, which would allow this area to be redeveloped. The former Power Plant portion of the site is owned by Associate Capital, who will decide its final disposition.
Who owns the former Potrero Power Plant property?
PG&E sold the Potrero Power Plant property in April 1999 to Southern Company. Associate Capital is the current owner. Other areas near the power plant property, 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 property?
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 remediation?
PG&E's environmental investigations and cleanup is performed under the oversight of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region, an organization within the California Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, PG&E is coordinating remediation efforts with the City and Port of San Francisco, and several other local, state and federal agencies, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Are there health risks to the community as a result of impacts to the soil, groundwater, surface water and sediments?
No, all information that we have collected to date indicates that there is no health risk to the public from environmental impacts.
What formal procedures has PG&E put in place in order to ensure community members have an opportunity to comment on the remediation and cleanup plans?
We aim to be transparent about our efforts and accessible to the public. Our communication efforts include various means of communication including project newsletters, in-person community planning meetings and neighborhood outreach. In addition, the Water Board has a separate public outreach process designed to collect public comments on any closure or 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.