School asbestos cleanup to begin

Published: Thursday, Jul. 7, 2005 - 5:15 am
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 21, 2006 - 2:26 pm

Work to clean up naturally occurring asbestos at a new high school site in Folsom is scheduled to begin at the end of this month.

A mitigation plan became necessary after soil samples taken last summer at the future site of Vista del Lago High School revealed levels of asbestos exceeding minimum state standards.

In such instances, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control requires school districts to conduct a removal or mitigation action to ensure the site is safe to build a school.

Vista del Lago's scheduled opening date for fall 2006 has been delayed a year while the Folsom Cordova Unified School District embarks on a mitigation plan that will cap much of the 50-acre site with a layer of woven fabric and cover that with a layer of clean soil.

State regulatory officials said the best way to protect students and school staff members at the campus from exposure to naturally occurring asbestos is a protective barrier capping the contaminated soil.

The school site is located at 1970 Broadstone Parkway within the southern part of the Empire Ranch housing development.

Last November, the school district entered into a voluntary cleanup agreement with the Department of Toxic Substances Control. The accord states that the district will clean up the site, and the state agency will provide regulatory oversight.

Matt Washburn, district director of facilities and planning, estimated the cleanup will cost $5 million to $7 million. He said the district hopes to receive partial reimbursement - perhaps as much as 50 percent - from the state Office of Public School Construction.

Both school district and state regulatory officials expressed confidence in the site plan, which was the subject of public review and comment.

"Everything is going smooth-ly," Washburn said last week.

Site work, such as grading and putting in retaining walls and underground utilities, should begin by the end of July, he said.

During the cleanup, regulatory officials said residents can expect to see:

* Personnel wearing safety gear and using heavy equipment such as front-end loader tractors.

* Trucks delivering clean fill dirt to be used as covers for all areas except slopes or land covered by buildings or asphalt materials.

* Placement of a barrier of woven fabric over all areas except those covered by buildings, asphalt materials or slopes.

* Water trucks lightly spraying the soil to prevent dust from becoming airborne.

* Airborne dust control - including air monitoring.

Because dust suppression is a key component of the plan, tires of trucks and other equipment used on the site will be cleaned before leaving the area.

In addition, Washburn said, street sweepers with high-efficiency vacuums will be used and large earth-moving equipment will be restricted to a 15 mph speed limit on the site.

All the mitigation work will be overseen by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Mark Malinowski, a senior engineering geologist for the agency, said department staff will visit the site periodically to review the cleanup.

Malinowski said dust control measures are designed to prevent any visible dust. But if residents in the area see dust, he said, they should call Mike Kenning, the agency's project manager at (916) 255-3625.

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Read more articles by Walter Yost -- Bee Staff Writer

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