East Helena halts work on athletic fields due to lead levels

EAST HELENA (AP) — The East Helena School District has temporarily stopped work on the athletic fields for its new high school after the soil tested higher for lead than allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Additional testing is being done and Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer tells the Independent Record that one option is to till the soil deeper to dilute the lead contamination.
East Helena was home to an Asarco lead smelter for a century and the district purchased land previously owned by Asarco to build the new school with the requirement that lead levels be reduced to the allowable residential levels of no higher than 500 parts per million. Whitmoyer says one sample tested at over 1,100 ppm.
The district hadn’t planned on seeding the fields until the fall. The school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.

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