January 22, 2009 in Washington Voices

Progress Elementary playground safe, clean

Staff writer
 

Progress Elementary School has been deemed safe by the Washington Department of Ecology.

The playground at 710 N. Progress Road in the Central Valley School District was placed on the state’s Hazardous Sites List because the soil was found to exceed state standards for lead and arsenic.

State crews in the summer of 2007 covered the ground with a membrane similar to the weed barriers used by many gardeners. That was capped with 6 to 8 inches of new dirt.

The contamination apparently is a remnant of the Valley’s agricultural past. It was discovered when the Department of Ecology tested former orchard lands statewide for contaminants contained in pesticides used in the first half of the 20th Century.

Lead and arsenic have been shown to increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. Lead can also damage organs and may cause problems of the nervous system.

But Ecology officials say the contamination at Progress may never have posed much risk to students because the soil was covered by sod, sand and other surfaces.

After more than a year of monitoring, the Ecology Department now proposes taking the playground off the Hazardous Sites List. Public comments will be accepted through Feb. 6. They should be addressed to Sandra Treccani, Department of Ecology, 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane, WA 99205-1295.

Documents regarding the cleanup can be reviewed at the Department of Ecology office at 4601 N. Monroe St. For more information, call 329-3412 or send e-mail to satr461@ecy.wa.gov.


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