The Hawaii State Department of Education has temporarily halted the renovation of Radford High’s athletic track field after debris was found during excavation work and subsurface soil tested positive for contaminants.
The athletic field has been off-limits to students and staff since the start of renovation in mid-December. As part of a multi-agency effort to assess the area, all appropriate safety measures were immediately taken upon discovery of the debris.
The construction area in question is adjacent to a former Navy disposal site, the Makalapa Crater landfill. It is likely the debris originated from past Navy disposal of construction wastes and material dredged between the 1930s and 1970s, according to a preliminary Navy assessment.
The DOE is working with the State Department of Health and the U.S. Navy to safeguard, study and remove debris such as ash, asbestos and discarded mechanical items found during initial excavation work.
"I want to thank our partners in the Department of Health and the Navy for mobilizing efforts to ensure the campus is safe for our students and staff at Radford High," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.
"Our screening tests indicate that serious soil contamination at Radford High is limited to the excavated areas at the field and track," stated Gary Gill, DOH Deputy Director for Environmental Health. "The athletic field was constructed on top of an old Navy dump site that must now be carefully assessed and cleaned up. We found clean soil throughout the rest of the campus. The school remains healthy and safe for staff and students."
An environmental sampling of the excavated subsurface soil conducted by DOE consultant Bureau Veritas North America in accordance with DOH guidelines revealed elevated levels of contaminants such as lead, arsenic and cadmium, according to results finalized on March 21. The contaminated subsurface soil exposed by the excavation is covered, and the construction site was immediately contained following the debris discovery.
The DOH has confirmed that the athletic field construction site poses no health risk to students or staff as all appropriate safety measures have been taken to prevent exposure to the contaminated soil. A health risk would occur if someone were to ingest the tainted dirt. Additionally, per DOH's recommendation and as a precautionary measure, the DOE conducted further tests throughout Radford High's campus, as well as on the grounds of the nearby Makalapa Elementary. Results confirmed the subsurface soil contamination is confined to the Radford High track area.
The DOH will continue to monitor remediation activities working closely with the U.S. Navy and the DOE.
"The Navy is wholly committed to taking immediate action and remediate this site in accordance with all federal and state regulations," said Commanding Officer Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Capt. Michael Williamson. "We have the technical expertise and have demonstrated our capability to regulatory agencies and the public in the past. This historic Navy debris that was discovered will be removed quickly and we will ensure that DOE can safely proceed with construction of the new track."
Radford High and Makalapa Elementary informed parents about the situation yesterday in a letter sent home with students.
The DOE, DOH and the Navy will continue to update the community on the progress of the project as more information becomes available.