High School Track Found to Be Dumping Ground for Hazardous Material, Including Asbestos

Officials at Radford High School in Hawaii were eager to replace an old cinder track with a new one that could withstand all-weather conditions, but instead of proceeding with the project smoothly they unearthed more than they bargained for.  Underneath the field, crews discovered Hazardous Material that hinted at the presence of an old dump site, and later soil tests came back positive for asbestos.

The Field

The principal of the school, James Sunday, is not only a faculty member, but he’s also a graduate of the high school.  He commented that “this field has been used for soccer, football games, marching band, graduations, things of that nature, and PE classes.”

The metal objects were discovered at a depth of about three feet below surface.  Crews were digging up the field, preparing to install the new one when they discovered the objects.  Sunday added that “They did exactly this within two days, covered it and quarantined it.  And they got experts in to start testing the soil.”

The school hired an environmental cleanup company to acquire five bags of debris to run more in-depth tests.  Further soil samples revealed not only asbestos, but also high levels of other hazardous materials such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and dioxin.  All levels were above what are considered acceptable levels.

Deputy Environmental Director Gary Gill stated that “When they dug down they found what looked like old fill material and metal and debris.”  Gill wanted to assure the public that to his “best knowledge, the students were not exposed to what was under the track, it was covered by clean soil.”

The Danger of the Materials

Besides the asbestos danger, the debris contained a highly dangerous amount of lead.  The acceptable levels of lead are 200 parts per million; the debris contained anywhere from 240 to 6,200 parts per million.  Gill believes that the material may be incinerator ash or something similar to it.

Gill also mentioned that his organization “can confirm that the lead contaminated is limited to the track and field area and there is no exposure of the chemicals or metals throughout those campuses.”

The school administrators are still not sure about how long the cleanup efforts will take, and even less sure about when the track will become usable for the students once again.  State officials have indicated that the Navy will be held responsible for the cleanup, but must conduct a more thorough investigation to create a cleanup plan.

Officials have sent letters home to inform parents of the situation, assuring them that it is under control, and to warn them to stay away from the area.

Exposed to dangerous materials such as asbestos?

If you have been exposed to asbestos, you may be at risk of developing serious health conditions, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.  You may be eligible for compensation.  To discuss your options, consult an experienced asbestos attorney today.


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