Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Soil Relocation Facts


  • Physical Address
  • Municipal Plaza Building
    114 W. Commerce, 6th Floor
    San Antonio, TX 78205   
  • Mailing Address
  • P.O. Box 839966
    San Antonio, TX 78283-3966
  • Phone
  • 210.207.8022


  • Razi Hosseini, P.E.
    Director/City Engineer
  • Anthony Chukwudolue, P.E.
    Deputy Director
  • Christie Chapman
    Assistant Director
  • Nefi Garza, P.E.
    Assistant Director
  • Luis Maltos, P.E.
    Assistant Director
  • Paul Berry
    Chief Communications Officer


Third Party Test Confirms Convention Center Soil is Safe

SAN ANTONIO (Apr. 17, 2015) – Independent third party environmental test results of the soil relocated from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center show the soil is safe and is within the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)'s residential standards. The soil was placed on a City-owned commercial property at Highway 151 and Old Highway 90 beginning in late 2013 as it was not structurally strong enough to support the weight of the new addition to the convention center.

The City's Metro Health Department oversaw the environmental tests by Weston Solutions, Inc. at the direction of City Manager Sheryl Sculley. Weston's results confirm the data from the two initial environmental reports that indicated the soil is safe for residential use and was appropriately reused on a commercial property.

Data from Weston's tests showed metals below or within TCEQ's residential standards. The data also shows that the low levels of metals do not transfer through water, including groundwater and storm water runoff.

Weston's environmental analysis included 48 soil borings over the approximately 48 acre commercial site. TCEQ approved the work plan prior to the start of work and the results of the test were also shared.

The Weston executive summary is available through the front page of the city’s website at www.sanantonio.gov . The full environmental report is available upon request.

 Executive Summary

April 17, 2015   Third Party Test Confirms Convention Center Soil is Safe 
17 de abril, 2015   Tercer Examen Confirma que la Tierra del Centro de Convenciones es Segura

Safe Soil Relocation Facts Video

TCI is providing the facts on the safe soil relocated from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center to a vacant City-owned commercial property.

KEy facts

  • The soil is safe enough to meet TCEQ residential standards.
  • The property is designated for commercial use.
  • The soil needed to be removed from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center expansion because it could not support the weight of the new building.
  • A total of 85 soil samples were evaluated.
  • The low level of metals shown in both environmental assessment reports are not susceptible to move through water or air.
  • The commercial property at Hwy 151 and Old Hwy 90 is an appropriate site for the soil.

  • La tierra es sufficientemente segura para cumplir con las normas residenciales de la TCEQ.
  • La propiedad está designada para uso comercial.
  • La tierra necesitaba ser trasladada de la expansión del centro de convenciones Henry B. Gonzalez, porque que no podía soportar el peso del nuevo edificio.
  • Un total de 85 muestras de tierra fueron evaluados.
  • El bajo nivel de los metales que se muestran en los dos informes de evaluación ambiental no son susceptibles de moverse a través del agua o el aire.
  • La propiedad comercial en la carretera 151 y Old Hwy 90 es un lugar apropiado para la tierra.

SOIL RELOCATION Policy and Communication Plan

City Manager Sheryl Sculley requested that TCI prepare a soil relocation policy and develop a communication plan. 

Review the Capital Project Soil Relocation Policy and Communication Plan

Removed SOIL Safe for Neighborhood Use - Sheryl Sculley, For the Express-News

I would like to address and set the record straight regarding the Express-News coverage of the Convention Center soil removal. The soil was moved because it was not structurally sound to handle the load of the Convention Center expansion.

The data in two different studies, by environmental engineering firms Geo Strata and Raba Kistner Environmental, indicate that the soil excavated from the Convention Center property does not exceed regulatory standards for residential or commercial development, as established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). In other words, the soil is safe enough to use for backyards, ball fields and gardens in any neighborhood community. The data in the two reports does not conflict on this critical point.

Where the reports differ is in the narrative recommendations made by the consultants. Geo Strata recommended that the soil be taken to a landfill for disposal. This would have cost an estimated $6 million and resulted in approximately 150,000 cubic yards of residential-grade soil being unnecessarily placed in a landfill.

City staff did not agree with Geo Strata’s conclusion and hired Raba Kistner to perform a more thorough Environmental Assessment. While the Geo Strata study was limited to 27 boring samples, the Raba Kistner assessment added another 58 samples for a total of 85 samples. It was a far more thorough and comprehensive assessment, and it too, indicated that the soils were appropriate for re-use at another site instead of being taken to a landfill.

The two studies cannot be treated as equals; it a false premise that the city picked and chose from among two competing studies. The first was an initial, limited study and the second was a more thorough, comprehensive analysis. I have directed the city’s Metro Health department to oversee an independent review to test the soil at the new location.

Yes, mistakes were made here, and they had mainly to do with communication. City staff should have better informed the mayor, City Council and our external partners of the situation to ensure that they were as comfortable as we were with the plan to move the soil.

But poor communication does not make an environmental catastrophe. Sensational reporting, on the other hand, can certainly create the perception of one.

Sheryl Sculley is city manager of San Antonio.

Read more on MySanAntonio.com... 

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SOIL Boring Locations

Each environmental engineering firm took soil samples from the area. The first firm, Geo Strata, tested multiple areas but soil was only removed from Area 3. In Area 3, Geo Strata took 27 samples from nine locations. The second firm, Raba Kistner, only tested in Area 3, where the soil was removed. Raba Kistner took 58 samples from 32 locations.

Cada empresa de ingeniería ambiental tomó muestras de tierra del área. La primera empresa, Geo Estratos, probó varias áreas, pero la tierra solamente fue extractada del Area 3. En la Area 3, Geo Estratos tomó 27 muestras en nueve lugares. La segunda empresa, Raba Kistner, únicamente hizo pruebas en la Area 3, donde se había extractado la tierra. Raba Kistner tomó 58 muestras en 32 lugares.

              Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Soil excavation Memo (PDF)
              Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center soil excavation timeline (pdf)