Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

August 31, 2009

Arsenic levels ‘acceptable’ at Kautz Field

City has no plans to develop adjacent Future, Eastside parks

City and school officials in Kokomo say the levels of arsenic found in the soil at Kautz Field and nearby properties is safe for current use.

According to a press release, Indiana Department of Environmental Management officials assured school and city officials that the arsenic levels contained in the soil at the downtown Kokomo site are “acceptable for current uses.”

Kokomo-Center Schools Superintendent Christopher Himsel said local officials received confirmation in August from the department that there was arsenic in the soil at Kautz Field and adjacent properties, including Future Park and Eastside Park.

“We are being told this is not a clean site, but IDEM stated that our current uses of the facility are acceptable,” Himsel said. According to the IDEM letter, Kautz Field is used for physical education classes at Central Middle School and for special events, but not for regular team practices or games.

City spokesman David Galvin said the city has no plans to develop Future Park or Eastside Park, and it could only be developed if it was remediated.

He said Pittsburgh Plate Glass, which had its original facilities contiguous to the site, paid for the environmental study.

“I believe the arsenic was contained in the sand used at the glass foundry,” he said.

Himsel said he requested the study after he was informed the properties potentially contained arsenic.

He said a letter from the Department of Environmental Management explaining the results is available on the school corporation Web site, www.kokomo.k12.in.us. Kokomo-Center Schools officials also sent a letter to parents about the study.

The letter states that the mere presence of people on Kautz Field does not result in excessive exposure to arsenic.

Himsel said the risk calculations in the study are based on the assumption that people using the field are ingesting the soil, and that because arsenic is a naturally occurring metal, most people would take in more arsenic from eating food than from exposure to the soil.

Because the intended purposes of the site do not include eating the soil, he said, IDEM believes “its calculations are both conservative and health-protective, and that the use of the football field is appropriate.”

• Danielle Rush is the Kokomo Tribune education reporter. She can be reached at (765) 454-8585 or danielle.rush@kokomotribune.com.

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