The most recent — and excruciatingly detailed — environmental analysis of the site upon which the new Aberdeen elementary school is being built does not show a perfect site, nor did anyone expect it to.

But what the “Phase II Environmental Site Assessment” has shown is exactly what we expected it to show: that location poses “no material risk” to anyone. It is a total vindication for the Moore County Commissioners, the Board of Education and their respective staffs who had done their due diligence previously, regardless of what a few misguided individuals with multiple axes at the grindstone would want us to believe.

For the last few months, a few conspiracy-story lovers have tried to sell us a snake-oil pitch that the school site off N.C. 5 below Sand Pit Road is full of toxins and unknown dangers lurking in the soil and groundwater and that the county knew it and ignored it. About the only thing they didn’t claim is that Teamster Jimmy Hoffa was buried on the site.

It would all be laughable, except there were otherwise rational and concerned — if not fully informed — residents who were listening along.

Risk ‘Extremely Low’

In the end, environmental engineers with Building and Earth found nothing on the Aberdeen school site approaching the need for concern. They took eight borings all over the site and drilled three monitoring wells to test the groundwater. Engineers looked for 150 “analytes” and their quantities in soil and water.

What was found was either naturally occurring or potential remnants from long ago contamination that had migrated into the site from nearby federally designated “Superfund” sites.

According to the report, “None of the analytes detected in the soil samples were above the thresholds for North Carolina Cleanup Standards for Contaminated Soils for residential use (which are stricter than standards for commercial sites). Nor were they above EPA Screening Levels.”

In fact, nothing was even close to triggering a concern. Trace amounts of an element of the pesticide DDT were found in groundwater from two of the wells, one 16 feet below the surface, the other 46 feet below ground.

“The risk of ingestion,” engineers wrote, “is extremely low.” Could a kindergartener at recess — with the time and desire — dig a hole through the grass, top soil, and 16 feet of clay soil and reach the groundwater? It is far more likely a satellite will fall out of orbit, burn through the atmosphere and crash into the school.

A School to Be Proud Of

We consider this matter closed. The new Aberdeen elementary is a beautiful school, a facility whose unique qualities and attention to detail shine through even in the construction stage. And it sits on a safe piece of land.

The new school off N.C. 5 will replace two segregation-era schools that have long suffered from aging and decrepit infrastructure. They should have been replaced long ago, and we’re mystified no school critics have bothered to complain about woeful conditions that have existed for years.

As proud as Moore County has been of the new McDeeds Creek Elementary School that opened last week, we will be even prouder to see this building’s first day of school next year.

For the peddlers of misinformation and twisted innuendo, we know they’re not done with their real agenda: nothing less than the full removal of Schools Superintendent Bob Grimesey and the elimination of redistricting. They don’t like the way he’s operating the district and they oppose the redistricting plan now before the county.

The stakes are high enough with the prospect of countywide redistricting without spinning costly conspiracy theories to needlessly work up everyone. The nay-sayers have achieved nothing other than to waste everyone’s time, attention and money in showcasing their ignorance.

(1) comment

Kent Misegades

I wouldn’t be so sanctimonious. MCS failed to do its due diligence in performing the Phase II study from the outset, as a private sector investor would. My greatest concern was that taxpayers would be soaked another $30m if the school was completed but then could not be used due to the known history.

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