It cost twice as much as expected, but after 18 months of work and nearly a million tons of soil removed, Wynn Resorts has finished the cleanup of environmental contamination at the site of its resort casino in Everett, the company announced Wednesday.
Cleaning the 33-acre property on the Mystic River, the site of a former chemical plant, cost $68 million, the company said in a statement. Original estimates had pegged the cost at about $30 million.
The work involved the removal of 840,000 tons of contaminated soil, hauled away in 11,900 truckloads and 4,700 rail cars. Another 41,000 tons of sediment was dredged from the Mystic River in the inlet just offshore. The river bed was capped with 30,000 tons of clean sand, and the company planted a 24,000-square-foot living shoreline “to bring the site to its original condition, facilitate the natural cleanup of the Mystic River, and support the return of native fish and wildlife to the area,” Wynn Resorts said.
The company plans to spend another $14 million on landscaping in the 6-acre harbor walk park in front of the resort.
The higher-than-expected cleanup expenses boosted the overall cost of the casino, now called Encore Boston Harbor, to $2.5 billion, up from $2.4 billion. The addition of restaurants and a change to the size of the ballroom also contributed to the increase, the company said.
“You can’t put a price tag on turning back the clock and unlocking a spectacular waterfront park that will bring beauty and enjoyment for generations to come,” said Robert DeSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor. “At every point of our constantly evolving cleanup process, when a decision needed to be made, we went with the option that delivered the best quality and most beautiful outcome.”
The cleanup of the polluted site — paid for privately —
The announcement also marks an attempt by the company to return attention to the project itself after a season of turmoil that saw Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn resign in February as chief executive amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Several investigations into the company’s handling of the allegations are ongoing, including one by the enforcement arm of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Last month, the company dropped Wynn’s name from the Everett project, previously named Wynn Boston Harbor, as part of its efforts to sever itself from Steve Wynn. The company runs Encore-branded hotels in Las Vegas and Macau.
The Massachusetts investigation is ongoing and expected to be completed by summer.
Patrick Herron, executive director of the Mystic River Watershed Association, said the group had challenged Wynn Resorts to build a living shoreline.
“This environmental project is a win-win-win for economic development, urban parks and the environmental quality of the Mystic River,” he said, joining a statement issued by the company.
Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said that “For decades, this river and sediment have been toxic and unwelcoming to people and nature. With the cleanup complete, we expect to see local communities, plants and wildlife flourish again.”
The casino is expected to open in June 2019.Mark Arsenault can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark