By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Construction work is ongoing at the Civic Arena site as new roads are built across the 28 acres.

But before housing and office buildings are constructed,  the Urban Redevelopment Authority is double-checking for environmental contamination.

“We’re at the point now in terms of the development there are some customary environmental issues,” URA chair Kevin Acklin told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

“This used to be a neighborhood as everybody knows. There were some gas stations there, some underground storage tanks and the like, customary issues that happen with any development in the city.”

Acklin says the URA will advance $250,000 for testing on the site, money that will be reimbursed by the Penguins, who own the development rights, once the project moves ahead.

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Most of the residential housing will be located at the upper end of the Civic Arena site, and nobody wants to put residents on top of anything that could cause an environmental or health risk to anyone living or working here.

Hence, the testing.

The URA has hired KU Resources of Duquesne to evaluate if there is any contamination of the site.

“We will mobilize a drill rig to poke some holes the ground, so to speak,” says Mark Urbassik of KU Resources.

“Take some soil samples, and analyze those soil samples in a laboratory.  We will also put some wells on the site to see if the ground water may be impacted.”

Urbassik, a partner in the environmental engineering firm, says there’s no big worry at the moment.

“It’s more of a suspicion of contamination.  We’re going to take a look, and even if there are indications that there have been impacts on the property, many times the impacts are such that they don’t hinder the development of the property.”

The review should take four to six months.

Absent a major finding says Acklin, this is not expected to delay the project.