Effected Area Limited to Small Patch of Grass Behind Cafeteria, Area to be Fenced Off Tomorrow
WEYMOUTH — Superintendent Jennifer Curtis-Whipple reports that a soil sample taken from a grassy area outside of the rear of the cafeteria at Chapman Middle School has tested positive for elevated levels of arsenic today.
All areas where children play that were tested were found to be safe.
As part of the Chapman MSBA project, the town is required to create a soil sampling plan. This plan requires multiple soil sample tests from all areas of the Chapman School’s exterior property. The School Department was informed this afternoon that one out of approximately 50 samples taken exceeded the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) limit of 39.9 parts per million for arsenic. The single sample that triggered this notification to the DEP was reported at a level of 40 parts per million – or .1 part per million – over the acceptable rate.
“From what I understand, this grassy area was found to be just above the threshold that would trigger this sort of situation,” Superintendent Curtis-Whipple said. “We are going to work within state and federal guidelines to get this addressed as quickly as possible and thankfully no areas that are utilized by students and staff will be impacted.”
In collaboration with the Weymouth Health Department, and Dan McCormack, Director of Public Health, and our environmental consultants, TRC, the district has been assured that this presents a low-level risk, bound in soil, and not airborne.
Town and School administration takes these results very seriously and is moving immediately to address all DEP requirements. It should be noted that these results are not uncommon and exist frequently in nature.
The following steps will be done to address the issue:
- Out of an abundance of caution, fencing will be installed tomorrow morning around the entire grassy surrounding the cafeteria, area even though only a small portion was identified. Fencing the entire area was part of the existing demolition plan, but will be done earlier than originally planned due to these recent findings. This will ensure that this grassy area is not accessible.
- Further testing of the soil will be done tomorrow. Additionally, the environmental company that the district contracts with has developed a sampling plan to ensure further testing and/or mitigation will be done prior to the demolition of the existing school building. To limit distractions to staff and students’ learning, this sampling plan will not be enacted until school has been released for summer break. The district has been assured that the fencing plan is the best practice for the time being.
- The district has notified students, parents/guardians and staff about this issue and the actions being taken in order to minimize any concerns or curiosity related to the newly fenced area.
“It is our hope that this notification will alleviate any concerns that people may have, but as always, parents are welcomed to reach out if they have further questions or concerns,” Superintendent Curtis-Whipple said.