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School ball field safe for kids despite coal ash


BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- State regulators say it is safe to use the athletic field at a Brunswick County school, even though coal ash was spread to elevate it more than 20 years ago.

Brunswick County School leaders say they are working with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) to deal with coal ash spread during the construction of the fields at South Brunswick Middle School.

According to Cathy Akroyd, public information officer for the NCDENR Division of Waste Management, the use of the recently renovated baseball field has been given the green light for students.

"As far as the material that is left on the field, test have shown that, at the surface soil level, there is no cause for alarm," Akroyd wrote in an e-mail, according to a news release from Brunswick County Schools. "That soil has been tested and poses no danger to anyone interacting with the surface soil."

School leaders found out about the coal ash during the recent renovation of the schoo's baseball field. The district says the coal ash was generated by the Cogentrix Corporation that formerly operated in Southport. The school district says it looks like 12 to 24 inches of the ash was used during the 1990s to elevate the fields.

According to Akroyd the stockpile mixture of soil and ash that remains at the school from the field renovation process must be disposed of at an appropriate landfill. The plan for disposal will be approved by NCDENR.

In her e-mail, the district says, Akroyd also acknowledged that there have been no detections of ground water contamination. Brunswick County Schools submitted a work plan and additional reporting from environmental engineering firm ECS to NCDENR Friday. The district is waiting for DENR's review and response.

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