Final Report on Vapor-Assessment Testing and Hanes and Lowrance (March 24)
The Board of Education voted tonight to set the locations for the two schools for the 2015-16 school year. All grades of Hanes will be at the former Hill Middle School, and Lowrance will stay at Atkins High School.
Next year’s sites had to be determined because our assignment process for 2015-16 is underway. People need to know where the schools will be as they make decisions about magnet applications, choice selections and other programs.
The board did not designate the sites as permanent locations for the two schools. We will continue to work on long-term solutions for both schools.
Will Service of Mid-Atlantic Associates also presented the preliminary report on the vapor intrusion testing his company did at Hanes and Lowrance over the Feb. 14 weekend. The company collected indoor air samples from 45 locations within the two schools, and no contaminants exceeded residential screening levels in any of the locations.
The company also collected sub-slab soil vapor samples in 31 locations to test for contaminants underneath the building. PCE was detected at levels that exceeded screening levels in 14 of these samples. These levels were compared to state targets for health risks, and it was determined that one of the 14 exceeded the target. When this occurs, the state requires indoor air testing – which Mid-Atlantic was already conducting.
This was Service’s preliminary report; when he finishes the final report, he will present the findings to the community. We will let you know when that will be. In the meantime, you can watch a recording of tonight’s meeting on our website at this page, and you can find a copy of Service’s preliminary report here.
The move of Hanes and Lowrance to Smith Farm, Hill and Atkins is going well. Hanes’ sixth grade was moved to Smith Farm last night, and Lowrance was moved to Atkins today. We will move the Hanes seventh and eighth grades to Hill beginning tomorrow, and we’ll be ready to welcome students to their new rooms on Monday. The staffs of both schools, our Operations Department and our Exceptional Children’s Department, our Technology Department and many volunteers have done an amazing job moving the schools. Even the weather hasn’t been able to slow them down.
Board votes to move Hanes and Lowrance (Feb. 11)
The Board of Education voted last night to move Hanes and Lowrance Middle Schools off their current site in response to concerns about safety at the site. The moves will take place by March 2, 2015.
Board of Education to hold briefing session on Monday, regular meeting on Tuesday
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education will hold a briefing session on Monday at 4 p.m. and its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Agendas for both can be found on this page.
The Board discussed several short-term options for Hanes and Lowrance Feb. 3:
One of these wells – called MW-22 – is a good example. It’s the one the Journal cited in its story last week that had a level of tetrachloroethene, or PCE, that was 8,050 micrograms per liter in March 2014. That number has dropped since then; it was measured at 2,950 micrograms per liter in September 2014. (Chart MW22 Sept 14 created by Piedmont Geologic, P.C., and provided to WS/FCS for the Jan. 27 Board of Education Meeting). It continues to be monitored, as do the other wells at Hanes and Lowrance.
The schools’ indoor air quality has been monitored several times since 2005, when WS/FCS Assistant Superintendent Gene Miller attended a meeting with N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and state and local health officials who were concerned about the chemicals possibly affecting the air quality at the schools. (Miller Memo 6.23.05).
DENR staff and state toxicologist Luanne Williams were all involved in determining whether the school sites were safe. Williams reviewed quarterly reports and an annual report. She also consulted with Tim Monroe, the director of the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, on her findings.
Tests were first done in August 2005. Williams interpreted the results and shared them in an Aug. 17, 2005 email (Williams 8.17.05). Williams wrote of both Hanes and Lowrance:
“Based on these sampling results, I would not expect cancer or noncancer health effects to occur as a result of exposure to the concentrations measured.”
Because PCE was found in several rooms at each school, Williams recommended testing continue every three months for the next year. The news was reported in local media at the time, and school and health officials met with parents during open house at the start of the school year (WS Journal 8.18.05).
In April 2006, Dr. Monroe reviewed Williams’ summary of tests in August 2005, November 2005 and February 2006 (Monroe 4.7.06). Dr. Monroe wrote:
“There is no reason to believe, from any of the testing to date, that the indoor air of either school has been contaminated by chlorinated solvent vapors from the groundwater contamination plume, for which this monitoring is being done.”
Williams found (Monroe 4.7.06):
“Based on the sampling results from August 2005 to February 2006, I would not expect the children or teachers to experience any health effects as a result of exposure to any of the chemicals found.”
Over the course of the year’s tests, three rooms each had levels above an acceptable risk during one test – one for PCE and two for trichloroethene, or TCE. Williams and Monroe both explained that the increased levels were most likely caused by products used within the school.
Following the last of the four recommended tests, Williams again wrote that she didn’t expect children or teachers to experience health effects from exposure to the chemicals found. (Williams 6.14.06)
Given the year of testing, Williams recommended in a July 28, 2006, meeting that additional indoor air quality monitoring would be done if there was a shift or increase in the concentration of PCE, TCE or dichloroethene, or DCE, in the monitoring wells. Monroe; Bob Whitwam, the health department’s administrator for community health services; and Bill Vaught, the assistant operations supervisor for WS/FCS, attended the meeting. Williams participated by phone. (Whitwam’s notes; Whitwam 7.28.06)
No additional air quality tests were required until DENR requested them on March 5, 2007 (DENR 3.5.07). After reviewing a progress report and seeing an increased PCE concentration in MW-22, Colin Day, a hydrogeologist for DENR, wrote in a letter that Whitwam also received:
“We are requiring another indoor air sampling event inside the two school buildings to ensure vapor levels have not increased.”
Piedmont Geologic (PG 4.26.07) then tested the air quality in the same eight rooms in Hanes and Lowrance and did not find TCE. It found that the concentrations of PCE were similar to the four previous tests and less than those found in a survey of schools, office buildings and homes for the elderly:
“PCE was detected in four of the April 2007 indoor-air samples … at concentrations of .75 ug/m3, 1.6 ug/m3, and .75 ug/m3. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a survey of indoor air in a school, office building, and home for the elderly showed median indoor-air PCE concentrations ranging from 1.7 ug/m3 to 4.8 ug/m3.”
DENR received the report and did not ask for more air quality tests (DENR 5.24.07). Day wrote:
“As can be seen from the April 2007 indoor-air monitoring data . . . it is apparent that there are not any vapor issues regarding contaminants of concern inside the Hanes and Lowrance school buildings.”
Data from the groundwater monitoring wells continues to be examined from 2007 to the present, allowing analysts to see how chemicals in the groundwater increased and decreased. Indoor air quality testing in Hanes and Lowrance was not requested by agencies during this time.
The air inside Hanes and Lowrance was again tested in May 2014 after Kaba Ilco and WS/FCS discussed installing a remediation system on the Hanes/Lowrance property and the possibility of WS/FCS building on the site. The two groups agreed to the air tests independent of a request from an agency (2014 Results).
The levels fell below the screening levels, as was the case with previous tests. WS/FCS hired S&ME, an engineering firm, to analyze the results. Ed Henriques, III, a senior geologist with S&ME, wrote (Henriques 5.20.14):
“It is my opinion that you can report to the board that the indoor air levels are below the applicable standards and generally less than or equal to the prior test results.”
That brings us to 2015, as we begin conducting a round of vapor-intrusion assessments. WS/FCS will contract with an engineering firm next week to conduct the tests, and we anticipate they will again demonstrate that Hanes and Lowrance are safe for students and staff.
We recognize that there may be no test result that builds confidence in this situation, and for that reason our staff will share a range of options at our Feb. 3 meeting. Our Board of Education will direct our staff and me to begin our next steps. We stand ready to serve you and your families.