SOUTHPORT, NC (WECT) – An investigation revealed coal ash was sprayed on the campus of South Brunswick Middle School in the 90s, but the current administration had no idea it was there.
Coal ash is the waste left from burning coal, and contains heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and lead.
According to the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources, some of the coal ash found at the school will have to be removed.
The coal ash was discovered when the baseball field was renovated last spring. What was left over was stockpiled to be used on a soccer field until members of the community started questioning the materials in the pile.
"It's very uncharacteristic of everything else that you get around here," said Stephen Miley, Executive Director of Operations Brunswick County Schools. "Based on our anecdotal knowledge and the condition and appearance of the soil we just pulled some very basic samples."
The State Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the stockpile of coal ash near the field should be disposed of, but the ash on the baseball field can stay.
The field was closed in October as a precaution, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources was notified. Tests showed evidence of heavy metals, but were below the threshold for unrestricted use, so students can start playing on the ball field again.
According to Miley, the EPA does not have any thresholds on the concentration of these metals, because they are naturally occurring and coal ash can be put to good use.
WECT investigated the issue, but school officials could not find any notes or meeting minutes that talk about the original contract or discussion to use coal ash on the field in the 90s. Two days after our initial investigation, school officials released information that the ash came from the Cogentrix Corporation that formerly operated in Southport.
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