And in perhaps this week’s most bizarre news:
The Wilmington Star-News reported Sunday that school officials in Brunswick County, a rural county south of Wilmington, will be spending nearly a half-million dollars to clean up a middle school playing field that sits atop coal ash.
In case you’ve been living under a rock in the last two years, coal ash is an energy plant byproduct that contains potentially toxic heavy metals. Duke Energy, by law, will be required to dispose of an estimated 100 million tons of the sludge in North Carolina over the next 15 years.
School leaders reportedly used coal ash as filler and to elevate the playing field in 1992, believing it would not cause any problems. However, soil testing registered high levels of “dangerous metals,” WWAY-TV in Wilmington reported last September.
Since then, students have been apparently barred from using the field.
From this weekend’s Star-News report on the plan, which will cost Brunswick County Schools about $475,000:
The school district will place 7 inches of soil over the field, which then will be topped with Bermuda sod. The remediation plan also calls for an irrigation system. These measures will protect any students playing on the field as well as the field itself, (the school system’s director of capital projects and planning Craig) Eckert said.
Eckert also recommended taking the stockpiled mixture of soil and coal ash (left over from the ball field’s renovation in 2014) to a landfill, as that will transfer any liability associated with it to the landfill.
The coal ash will go to a landfill in Sampson County, the only county willing to accept it.