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Goodyear Elementary School Sampling Continues

 August Completion of Cleanup Still Goal

 

 
 

A second round of testing has been ordered by the Board of Education (BOE) after receiving the May 2005 sampling results for the Goodyear Elementary School.  The current round of sampling began June 20, and the BOE still has a goal of completing the cleanup before school starts on August 10th

   The history of sampling Goodyear Elementary School goes back to the mid-1990’s when several rounds of sampling and analysis were conducted on schoolyard soils.  Chemical contamination of the soils was found, but exactly what chemicals were in the soil was never determined.  The soil was further tested for acute toxicity, and was found to be acutely toxic in some locations.  Unfortunately, the way the sampling was conducted did not allow the sampled location to be returned to for further analysis.  In the end, the recommendation was to establish a dense grass cover to isolate school children from the soil.  This never was completed.

   The Glynn Environmental Coalition (GEC) in partnership with the Glynn County Health Department, Board of Education, and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researched the problem, and developed a sampling plan.  The GEC raised money to sample the schoolyard.   The GEC went before the BOE for approval to start the sampling and analysis of Goodyear Elementary School soils.  To our surprise, the BOE offered to fund $5,000 of the estimated $10,000 sampling and analysis budget, which we gratefully accepted.  The catch was that the GEC had to receive approval of our sampling plan from a Federal Agency, but since we had already sought input from a Federal Agency toxicologist, the approval came quickly.  In fact, the toxicologist said the sampling plan was better than any testing done to date.

   The top 3 inches of soil were sampled and analyzed and the report released in October 2002.  In a meeting with the BOE Chair, School Superintendent Dr. Winter, and Glynn County Health Department, the results were provided. Dr. Winter asked that we wait until the November 2002 BOE meeting to publicly release the results so the recommendations could be implemented.  Fill was brought in to cover and isolate the identified problem areas and grass was planted.  In November 2002, sampling results were announced along with actions taken to correct the immediate problem at the BOE meeting.

   With the immediate threat addressed, State and Federal agencies started a Health Consultation to evaluate the sampling results and make recommendations.  Over two years later, the Health Consultation was released March 22, 2005 after delays caused by the G-8 Summit, reviews and revisions, and producing the final report.

   The BOE acted on the recommendations to further evaluate the soils by testing for the depth of soil contamination and obtaining an engineer’s evaluation of the soil cover which had been placed as an interim measure in 2002.  Concerns were raised that construction or utility work could reintroduce contaminated soil to the surface of the schoolyard.  The BOE appropriated $73,000 in May 2005 to study the depth of soil contamination.  Based on the results, an additional $75,000 was appropriated in June 2005 to investigate further.  Current interest is in the soil brought in as fill to raise the school above flood elevation when it was rebuilt, and not the soil used to cover the contaminated areas found during the GEC testing.  Current samples are being taken from several depths, which is more extensive than the GEC testing that sought to answer the question of contamination in the top 3 inches of soil to which school children are exposed during play.

   Even though contaminated soils have been known to be on the Goodyear Elementary Schoolyard for a decade, the current BOE deserves credit for aggressively investigating the problem and setting a goal of a complete cleanup by the opening of school on August 10th.  Our children deserve no less.

 

 
     
     

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