Work on a new stormwater vault near downtown has stopped while environmental consultants take samples of discolored soil that reeked of gasoline.
A state-funded project to build an underground water quality vault has been on hold since last week, when construction workers noticed the stench of petroleum while digging the vault at the intersection of Sixth Street and Decatur Avenue.
Currently, the site contains an empty hole in the street surrounded by fencing.
Environmental investigators have not pinpointed a source of the contamination, though they know a gas station operated in the neighborhood years ago, said Stephanie Ray, an engineer with Huibregste, Louman Associates, the Yakima firm that provides the city of Sunnyside with design and project management work.
The firm, usually known as HLA, has hired Fulcrum Environmental Consulting of Yakima to take soil samples and report the results to the state Department of Ecology.
The vault work will remain on hold until the sampling is complete, but the workers do not have to wait for the results to resume, said City Manager Don Day.
He is unsure how long they will have to wait.
The engineers contacted the state Department of Ecology on April 14, said Joye Redfield-Wilder, a spokeswoman for the agency’s Yakima office.
Meanwhile, constructions crews have been continuing work on other portions of the overall stormwater system project, paid for with a $455,000 allocation from the state’s 2013-15 capital budget.
Plans include replacing a storm drain main and a nearby leaky sewage pipe, as well as the reservoir that will allow sediment from storm runoff to settle before the water is discharged back to rivers and streams.
The construction contractor is Pow Contracting of Pasco.