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Wake County (N.C.) district won't build high school at site designated as hazardous

Wake County (N.C.) district won't build high school at site designated as hazardous

Tests show contamination of soil is greater than previously thought

The Wake County (N.C.) school district has abandoned plans to build a high school in Raleigh on land that’s been designated as a hazardous waste site.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the fast-growing district had taken steps earlier this year to buy the former Corning Glass Works industrial plant site for $4.5 million, but further tests of soil at the site have determined that the land is more contaminated than previous tests had shown.

“We realized it’s just not possible to guarantee that other issues might not arise,” says Betty Parker, Wake’s senior director of real estate services. “Student and faculty safety is more important than anything else. We presented it to the (school) board, and they decided not to move forward with the site.”

The district will lose a $30,000 deposit on the property.

The school system's consideration of the site was an indication of the difficulty it has encountered in finding a sufficiently large tract of land in central Raleigh for a high school. The district typically builds high schools on 60-acre parcels, and the Corning Glass plant site is only 32.55 acres.

In the 1980s, the Corning plant was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list, meaning it was eligible to receive federal funding for cleanup of hazardous materials. The plant has been monitored by the state of North Carolina since 1992 when efforts began to clean groundwater contaminated by industrial solvents such as trichloroethylene and volatile organics that were used at the site.

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