City filling in school central office site
SALISBURY — The city of Salisbury is filling in the large hole at the proposed school central office site, but the cleanup may not be done.
Excavation of thousands of tons of contaminated soil in the 300 block of South Main Street is complete, but the city-owned property will require further testing, said Dan Graham, a hydrogeologist with the N.C. Department of Natural Resources Underground Storage Tank Section.
Graham serves as the state’s project manager for the clean-up effort.
It’s not known yet if groundwater under the site is contaminated, and if so, whether the levels of any contamination would require clean-up, Graham said.
The city submitted to Graham an initial abatement action report on Feb. 20. The document, completed by licensed geologist Alan Griffith of Griffith Enterprises in Winston-Salem on behalf of the city, detailed the total amount of soil excavated, amount and type of contaminants and where the contamination was located on the site.
Now, Griffith is completing a limited site assessment on behalf of the city, a required report that Graham said will help him determine any environmental risks from the site and whether groundwater is contaminated.
“The LSA will indicate if there is groundwater contamination, and that will allow me to risk the site as either low, medium or high,” he said.
The state has not set a deadline for the assessment because the city is not considered the responsible party for the cleanup. Graham said because the city has been working quickly to clean up the site, he expects the assessment soon.
The city bought the former service station in 2007 after the state had given the site a clean bill of health in 1991, then reaffirmed the finding in 2007 before the city bought the property.
Because the city is not responsible for the contamination, the state will pay for most of the clean-up cost, which could top $500,000. The city is responsible for a $20,000 deductible.
“We are very thankful that the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources is partnering with us on the cleanup,” City Manager Doug Paris said. “We are currently backfilling the site and will await final word from NCDENR. We are excited to put something on this corner that our citizens can be proud of.”
When site preparation began last fall for the school central office construction, soil contamination was discovered, as well as seven orphan underground tanks.
Citing the contamination, Rowan County commissioners declined to borrow $6 million on behalf of Rowan-Salisbury Schools to build the central office on the property.
In response, City Council agreed to consider borrowing $8 million on behalf of the school system to build a larger central office.
In the 15-page report submitted Feb. 20 to the state, Griffith said it required multiple excavations to rid the site of soil contamination.
After the final dirt removal on Feb. 7, Griffith tested 32 soil samples and said he found no sample with residual hydrocarbon concentrations higher than the state’s allowable residential soil cleanup levels.
Paris said the city is cleaning up the site to the residential soil cleanup level because it’s a higher standard than the commercial soil cleanup level.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.