Arsenic in soil complicates country club remediation

November 19, 2014

The Westwood Country Club outside of Buffalo, New York, with its 25-meter pool and 18-hole golf course, will close next month in preparation for extensive remediation of its grounds. The club has been in operation for more than seven decades, but was forced to close its doors as a result of financial and environmental challenges. 

Mensch Capital Partners LLC., the owners of the 170-acre club, publicized their $238 million plan to redevelop the property into a mixed-use residential, commercial and retail community. However, routine soil tests required for approval for redevelopment found traces of arsenic on the golf course greens and fairways.

The property owner has applied to the state's Brownfields Cleanup Program in an effort to obtain tax credits to help subsidize the cost of remediation. Arsenic could routinely be found in the herbicides and fertilizers used by golf courses prior to the EPA's dismissal of its use in 2009. According to the Buffalo News, the Westwood Country Club stopped using arsenic in their grounds treatments in 1994.

The environmental report on the property indicated that arsenic concentrations were found two feet below ground with some three and 1/2 feet below ground at one spot.

"There are two remediation options for the arsenic impacted greens," the Environmental Standards report said. "Excavate greens and dispose of impacted soils at an approved landfill or excavate greens and bury impacted soils under a cap." Fortunately, extensive testing of the nearby creek found no contamination, which would have significantly elevated costs. 

The remediation efforts are expected to cost between $2 and $4 million, depending on the strategy chosen to pursue. 

Working with an environmental consultant can help to determine the most cost-effective means of addressing contaminated grounds. With their experienced insight, land can be returned to usable condition as efficiently as possible.