|By B.J. CORBITT
The Brunswick News
Students at Goodyear Elementary School won't be
spending any more playtime on the school grounds this April and May.
A federal government report raising questions
about the possible presence of toxic chemicals in the soil around
Goodyear has prompted school officials to confine physical education
activities to the gymnasium and a public park on Parkwood Drive, about a
half-mile from the school.
The decision to abandon the playground comes
after elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, large
quantities of which may lead to cancer, were discovered in the soil at
the school, located at the corner of Parkwood Drive and U.S. Highway 17.
A precise source of the chemicals was not identified.
The playground will be closed as a precautionary
measure until further tests are performed on the soil, said Jim Weidhaas,
public information director for Glynn County's schools. More testing
will likely be conducted during summer break, he said.
The decision to keep students inside was made
this week by interim school superintendent Delacy Sanford and Goodyear
Principal Carla Hall.
It follows a recently released report from the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency For Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry, which characterizes Goodyear Elementary
as an "indeterminate public health hazard." The report is based on
analysis of soil testing performed in 2002
In a letter sent home to parents of Goodyear
students Friday, Sanford noted that there is not enough information at
this time to determine if a health risk exists.
However, he added, "The Glynn County School
System takes this new report very seriously."
Although the report says the limited data
available does not indicate humans have been exposed to levels of
contamination that would be expected to cause adverse health effects, it
says more tests are needed.
New soil was brought in to cover the grounds at
Goodyear and new grass planted after the school was rebuilt in the late
Dick Newbern, a parent with three children at
Goodyear, became aware of the situation when his 8-year-old son came
home from school this week and told him he and his friends weren't
allowed to play outside.
"I talked to the board of education and the
Glynn Environmental Coalition and as far as I can tell, there's no
reason for panic," said Newbern, who also serves on the Goodyear school
council. "I think parents need to be level-headed about this."
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, byproducts of
burning coal, oil, gas or garbage, have been linked to reproductive and
skin disorders in animals. They are also thought to increase the risk of
cancer in animals and humans.
In addition to Goodyear, tests were performed at
Burroughs-Mollette Elementary School, Risley Middle School and Edo
Miller Park. No hazard was found at any of those sites.