Thornton is the senior geologist with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and has been working with the DPS to ensure that the soil the at new Beard Elementary School construction site is free of toxic material. Last month, News Hits reported that part of the site contains arsenic, lead and other contaminants, according to the Detroit Public Schools’ own documents. Soil from another part of the site, which was thought to be contaminated, was removed from the area, supposedly bound for a hazardous material landfill. But most of this soil never reached the appropriate destination, according to Thornton.
Since Sept. 7, Thornton says she has been asking the DPS for a report showing that the soil was properly disposed. DPS officials said that last week they discovered that only a portion of the soil was shipped to the landfill. About 200 cubic yards was dumped in the basement of a demolished building at the corner of Green and Gartner, four blocks north of the new Beard School site, according to a DPS press release.
Cleophus Boyd, general manager of community and corporate affairs for the DPS Program Management Team, which oversees the construction of new schools and capital improvements for the district, says that the soil in question was initially tested and found to contain arsenic. Final test results were not available at press time. Boyd says the DPS notified the prosecutor’s office of the illegal dumping allegations and that criminal charges may be brought against the subcontractor. School officials did not provide News Hits with the subcontractor’s name.
Boyd also says it is not clear how much it will cost the DPS to clean up the neighborhood site or whether the money will come out of the Beard cleanup budget.
Thornton says that she asked for the landfill reports to ensure that the soil was appropriately disposed.
“Anyone can say they took the soil off site, but you want to make sure it was landfilled properly,” says Thornton. She said it was a good thing she asked for the landfill reports. Otherwise, “we never would have known about this.”Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]