AshevilleCatherine HunterCity - County Gov.News Stories

Experts say no vapors, no danger in BCS buildings

By Catherine Hunter –

Once again extensive testing of new wells drilled in and around the Buncombe County Schools (BCS) administration buildings on Bingham Rd. show no detection of hazardous or harmful chemicals according to a report by Mountain Environmental Group of Canton.

BCS staff not only had monitoring wells drilled close to the buildings, but went beyond recommendations from the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) having soil gas and sub slab tests performed inside the buildings on October 9 and 10.

Pace Analytical Laboratory in Asheville tested the samples and reported all four contaminants of concern (PCE, TCE, cis-1,2-dichloroethene and vinyl chloride) “… were below detection limits for the soil gas samples.” In addition the results for sub-slab gas samples, “… were also below detection limits for all four compounds.”

Only one of the five new wells showed any detectable contaminates. The sub slab sample taken in the maintenance shop showed minor detection of PCE at a rate of 6.55 micrograms per cubic meter. According to Mountain Environmental Group, this area may be impacted by migration of vapors.

However, the amount showing on the test is well below the acceptable concentration in a commercial site of 350 micrograms and an acceptable level of 83.4 micrograms for a residential home where children are present.

BCS Director of Communications and Spokesperson Jan Blunt said, “The Maintenance Department is on a separate HVAC system from the rest of the BCS facilities, so even if the small 6.55 micrograms was an issue, there is absolutely no way for ANY level of that contamination to reach the central office or proposed STEM school facilities.”

Two wells near the road at the back entrance gate for the BCS offices show some contamination. However they are 800 feet away from the BCS buildings and closer to the Square D plant across the road. The old monitoring well 150 feet from the BCS maintenance building was tested in the 1990’s and again this past August and continues to show no contamination.

Regarding the chemicals in the maintenance shop Blunt said, “There is no telling where those chemicals came from. It could be something related to the work done in the shop.”

BCS Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin said they appreciated the careful work performed by Mountain Environmental Group that shows the buildings are free of contamination and safe for employees and students. He is proposing a monitoring of the wells in the future to continue ensuring the safety of staff and students.

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