Testing results conclude that non-native fill found in the soil at Irvington School District’s East Field contains contaminants that may require remediation—however Irvington School Board President Robert Grados said that the findings don’t present a health risk.
“We are going to take the most conservative and careful course of action here,” said Grados.
Grados said East Field, a practice athletic field at the middle/high school campus that has been closed since Aug. 29, would remain closed while the district works with a hired environmental consultant, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Department of Health to ensure that the field is safe.
“There are no current health risks, since the field is closed, and we do not perceive any prior health risks, especially since the field has been used for almost 50 years by community residents,” said Grados. “We are, however, referring this to the Department of Health as a precaution.”
The East Field and Meszaros Field both underwent soil testing after non-native fill material was found at East Field when the district’s architect LAN Associates were examining the fields for potential improvement and upgrades on Aug. 28. The fill appears to include construction and demolition debris, did not originate from the site and was disposed on the property between the 1960s or 1970. Most of this
non-native historic fill material” appeared to contain red brick, metal piping, electrical wiring, wood and ceramic tile.
No volatile organic compounds, PCBs, or asbestos was found in the soil—with the exception of samples of some pipe insulation. The following chemicals, however, were found in the soil:
- old pesticide and herbicides that are no longer used
- metals like, cadmium, copper, nickel and lead
- semi-volatile organic compounds
“The laboratory results indicate that some of these SVOCs, metals and pesticides are present in the historic fill at concentrations that exceed applicable New York State Soil Cleanup Objectives,” says a press release from school board's communication's company Syntax.
While the results don’t necessarily mean that remediation work will be necessary at East Field, it will require the district to work with state agencies on a deeper investigation.
“This issue requires communication clarity and transparency, and once we have more information from our conversations with state agencies, we will be setting up an information session and follow-up communication for our residents,” said Irvington Superintendent Dr. Kristopher Harrison.
One of the questions in the Q&A asks why the district waited until Sept. 27 to notify the community when the results came back on Sept. 11.
“This is a complicated issue that requires the collaboration of a number of key professionals and agencies, and it remains critical that both the Board of Education and district administration are well-prepared and informed to engage our residents properly. It has taken approximately two week to organize this effort, including contacts with the NYSDEC and NYSDOH,” the Q&A says.