Environmental Concerns Expressed About the New Aberdeen Elementary School Site
As has been communicated extensively over the last four years to the to the public, the Board of Education is aware of the history of chemicals on properties in Aberdeen and where they are relative to the new Aberdeen Elementary school site. As part of the due diligence activities performed for property acquisition, an environmental site assessment was performed by Building and Earth Science, Inc., in 2015, in which they identified no findings that would present an environmental risk to the subject property, nor was that indicated in a 1991 EPA Record of Decision. A 2017 addendum by Building and Earth and 2018 EPA report continue to indicate no evidence of recognized environmental conditions in connection with the property.
Q: Is the new elementary school in Aberdeen being built on a Superfund site?
A: No. The new elementary school in Aberdeen is not being built on a Superfund site.
Q: Then what is this controversy surrounding the school site and its proximity to some Superfund sites?
A: The following background about the Aberdeen Pesticide Dump Sites in Aberdeen is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
"[The Superfund sites] include five separate areas impacted by industrial formulation and blending of pesticides and related waste disposal practices. EPA placed the site on the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989 because of contaminated debris, groundwater, soil, sediment and surface water resulting from facility operations.
EPA, the North Carolina Department of Environment of Environment Quality (NCDEQ) and the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs), investigated site conditions and took steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working nearby. By treating and monitoring groundwater, placing institutional controls on the site property and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA, NCDEQ and the site’s PRPs continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.”
Q: How close is the closest pesticide dump site?
A: The closest site is located just under one-half mile from the school. That site, known as Fairway Six, is considered “complete” by the EPA in terms of cleanup.
Q: How do you know if that is far enough away?
A: The EPA and the NCDEQ have determined the site does not pose a threat to people living, working or attending school nearby.
Q: When was the last Five-Year Review of the sites conducted?
A: The last review of the sites was conducted in 2018 by the EPA, the North Carolina Department of Environment of Environment Quality (NCDEQ) and the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs). The report can be found here.
Q: What has the school district done to ensure the site where the school will be built is safe?
A: In 2015, the district contracted with Building & Earth Sciences, Inc., to conduct a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. The full report can be found here. Building & Earth Sciences, Inc., concluded that “This assessment has revealed no evidence of recognized environmental conditions in connection with the property.” An addendum to that report conducted two years later reaffirmed that conclusion. The addendum analyzed the flow of groundwater relative to the site of the new elementary school. The results show that groundwater flow is away from the site due to the elevation of the school site being higher than the five pesticide dump sites
Q: Will the district be conducting a Phase II assessment?
A: Phase II assessments are not typically conducted unless recommended at the conclusion of the Phase I assessment and the Phase I assessment of this site did not recommend a Phase II assessment be conducted. However, a Phase II assessment is being conducted at this time and is anticipated to be available at a September meeting of the Board of Education.