Environment

Gas leak less than a mile from new Aberdeen Elementary School shows perils of building in an industrial zone

Natural gas continues to leak from a ruptured line in Aberdeen about eight-tenths of a mile from the new Aberdeen Elementary School, whose location has concerned many parents because it is in an industrial area.

There have been no evacuations or injuries, according to town Fire Chief Phillip Richardson, but NC Highway 5 is closed. Contractors digging in the area hit the line, causing the breach, Richardson said.

Children are attending classes in-person. Moore County Schools spokeswoman Catherine Murphy said the leak and road closure will affect dismissal. Parents are being detoured to access the school from Sand Pit Road. Bus schedules are also delayed.

Policy Watch reported about the controversy last year after parents and citizen watchdogs became concerned because the school — whose 600-800 students are from predominantly low-income neighborhoods or communities of color — would be built near a Superfund site.

The school opened this fall.

Although environmental regulators say the site, which was contaminated with pesticides, no longer poses health risks, the groundwater is contaminated. The school had to connect to a public water system before opening, and no groundwater can be used, even for irrigation.

The Superfund site isn’t the only environmental issue in the neighborhood. Based on neighborhood visits and environmental databases, Policy Watch reported that there are at least 10 air pollution sources within a mile of the school. These include several factories, a large propane sales operation, railroad, and a landfill, as well as significant diesel truck traffic.

Two old Aberdeen schools (right side of map) were combined for a new school that opened this year. However, it is near at least 10 sources of air pollution. Today there was a gas leak about eight-tenths of a mile southeast of the school. (File map: Lisa Sorg)

14 Comments


  1. Lisa Jean

    October 12, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    Thank you Lisa Sorg for always doing an amazing job. She has followed this story from the beginning. She warned that this might happen and they didn’t listen. Lisa cares about kids!!

  2. K David

    October 12, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Ms. Sorg, was it okay that the previous school was right off a major highway? Was it ok that it was riddled with lead, mold, asbestos, etc.? Do gas line leaks only occur in industrial areas? It’s sad that you are being used by the local tea party.

  3. Lisa Sorg

    October 12, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    K David, I reported on the terrible conditions of the previous school buildings. In those stories, I also acknowledged that a new school was needed. However, I also pointed out how the district consistently disregarded nationally recognized guidelines for safe schools placement. This is not a political issue for me, but one based on best practices and science.

  4. K David

    October 12, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    Ms Sorg, do any schools in Moore County meet those guidelines? I’m personally glad that MCS do not use ground water at any of the schools. Would NC policy watch fund a study to see if there is contamination at other schools since many are built on previous farmland that could also be contaminated?

  5. Lisa Sorg

    October 12, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    K David, I haven’t analyzed the siting of all of the Moore County Schools, but those that are sited away from major industrial polluters would be preferable. Policy Watch is a journalism outlet, not a health funding organization, so no, we would not fund such a study.

  6. K David

    October 12, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Ms Sorg, you might want to look into the high Chromium Vi ground water levels in the Pinehurst/Taylortown/West End area.

  7. Kami David

    October 12, 2020 at 8:55 pm

    Not sure who is commenting and ripping off my name but I did not make those comments above – Kami David

  8. Lisa Jean

    October 12, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    K David, none of those things are acceptable so wouldn’t you want the school to be located in a safer area? It seems like you are trying to justify the location of the school by pointing out the issues with the old building. I’m sorry you set the bar so low for our students. I’m sorry that you do not think they deserve better than this. Stop trolling Lisa for doing her job and start expecting better for our students and teachers.

  9. Kami David

    October 12, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Not sure who is posting under my name but I did not make the comments above – Kami David

  10. Lisa Jean

    October 12, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    K David, it is also pretty pathetic that you’re using someone else’s name. Someone who has advocated for our students and fought along with other parents to stop the building of this school. If you feel so confident in what you have to say, why hide behind someone else’s name? We know this isn’t Kami so just stop.

  11. K David

    October 12, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    I feel bad that she is just a pawn for the local tea party. I would argue West Pine is in a more dangerous area. Now that the school is built, I would love to see a solution instead of just repeating the same thing over and over.

  12. Kami David

    October 12, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Lisa Sorg – I agree with your article. I have supported you since your first article on the Aberdeen elementary school. You have a troll posting under my name – the real Kami David

  13. Kami David

    October 12, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    To K David – thanks for the concern but I assure you, I am not a pawn for the tea party. I’m a registered Democrat – what the tea party would call a NY liberal. – the real Kami David

  14. Lisa Sorg

    October 12, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    In the future, the fake K David will be blocked.

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