Additional testing shows a coal ash dump at the Chapel Hill Police Department property has not contaminated nearby groundwater.
The results from consultant Falcon Engineering contradict the town’s earlier findings and have been sent to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources for review. DENR could ask for more tests, work to remediate the site or restrict how the property can be used. Town officials are posting updates about the issues online at bit.ly/1toqSFS.
The coal ash was buried decades ago – before the Police Department headquarters was built – but became an issue as the town looked at the possibility of selling or using the site for another purpose. The town could build a new police station.
Falcon Engineering investigated the coal ash dump and told the town in July 2013 that more work was needed. The town approved further studies, notified DENR about the potential contamination and installed fencing to limit potential runoff into the creek.
A preliminary March report found elevated levels of coal-related contaminants – arsenic, lead, barium, chromium and selenium – in one of two monitoring wells dug at the site. The report also indicated high levels of mercury in the groundwater.
The results prompted the Friends of Bolin Creek to petition the town for additional testing and to clean up the site.
In a May 28 letter to the town, however, DENR officials recommended doing more tests to confirm the findings. The “high turbidity” – the amount of soil, algae and other particles – of water at the site could have generated misleading test results, officials said.