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Radford field work stopped after contaminants found

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:59 p.m. HST, Apr 2, 2014

Renovation work on a new track field at Radford High School has been halted after debris and soil samples tested positive for contaminants including lead and arsenic, the state Department of Education announced Wednesday.

The school's athletic field is near the Navy's former Makalapa Crater landfill. A preliminary assessment by the U.S. Navy said the debris likely originated from past Navy disposal of construction waste and material dredged between the 1930s and 1970s.

The DOE is working with the state Department of Health and the Navy to safeguard, study and remove debris that includes ash, asbestos and discarded mechanical items found during initial excavation work.

"Our screening tests indicate that serious soil contamination at Radford High is limited to the excavated areas at the field and track," Gary Gill, the Health Department's deputy director for environmental health, said in a statement. "The athletic field was constructed on top of an old Navy dump site that must now be carefully assessed and cleaned up. We found clean soil throughout the rest of the campus. The school remains healthy and safe for staff and students." 

Soil samples showed elevated levels of contaminants such as lead, arsenic and cadmium. The Health Department said a health risk would occur if someone were to ingest the tainted dirt.

"This historic Navy debris that was discovered will be removed quickly and we will ensure that DOE can safely proceed with construction of the new track," Commanding Officer Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Capt. Michael Williamson said in a statement.

Work was being done on a $2.3 million project to build an all-weather track at the school, located along Salt Lake Boulevard.

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