Friday, December 12, 2003

Kings searches for new fields

Lead cleanup to start in February

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

DEERFIELD TWP. - Kings High School's spring sports teams will have to find a new home.

Comprehensive testing to determine the scope of lead contamination at the Warren County school complex will begin Tuesday with a four-month cleanup expected to begin in February.

"We already know there's lead on the baseball field and at the (football) stadium,'' said athletic director Matthew Koenig. "The softball field sits in the middle. As a precaution we're not even going to play there."

Kings becomes the third active U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup site in Southwest Ohio because of lead contamination from old skeet-shooting ranges. The Lexington Manor subdivision, off Millikin Road in Liberty Township, and a second nearby site of adjacent homes must also be cleaned up.

Contractors for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday set up a trailer field office at the school complex on Columbia Road and began pinpointing the 900 spots where samples will be drawn for testing. Soil samples will be taken every 15 feet at various depths in the contaminated soil.

Results are due back to the EPA Jan. 1.

"We know there's contamination. Now they have to go out and see the extent of the contamination,'' said Kings Superintendent Chuck Mason.

Officials found lead-contaminated soil four months ago while investigating an EPA cleanup site at the former Peters Cartridge Co., near the school. Some of the Kings property had been used as a skeet-shooting range and gun club dating to the mid-1950s.

When the contaminated soil was discovered, Kings officials closed George G. King Memorial Stadium, some fields and an area near the junior high entrance. Football games were played at Galbreath Field in Mason.

Preliminary soil testing done in August found lead levels as high as 53,100 parts per million at the north side of home bleachers. The EPA considers a site to be hazardous at 400 parts per million.

The new tests will show how deep the contamination runs and how wide an area is affected. Once that's known, EPA officials will develop a plan and timeline for cleanup.

Site preparation work is likely to begin in late January with cleanup following in February. It has still not been determined who will share in the costs of cleaning up the site.

Results of next week's testing and any cleanup plan will be shared at a public meeting tentatively set for 7 p.m. Jan. 13 at Kings High School.

Enquirer reporter John Kiesewetter contributed. E-mail

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