A large pile of contaminated dirt was reportedly deposited on the Southwest High School campus in the spring of 2010. After 10News.com reported the story last week, the district shrouded the dirt pile in plastic — and in mystery.
Where did the 10,000 tons of contaminated dirt originate? Sweetwater Union High School interim superintendent Ed Brand told 10News.com on June 15, “I can’t tell you specifically where it came from. I believe it was a group of volunteers that brought the dirt in.”
Several days later, Dianne Russo, interim deputy superintendent for the district, told the Proposition O Bond Oversight Committee that Southland Paving Company put the dirt there and that it was going to cost $498,000 to remove it. Nick Marinovich, the new chair of the oversight committee, has stated that the money will not come from Prop O funding.
A June 26 interview with a spokesperson from Southland Paving contributed to the mystery. The spokesperson, who declined to give her name, said the company did have a contract with Sweetwater to move dirt onto Southwest High School’s campus.
However, the spokesperson said the company tested the soil prior to moving it and that it was not contaminated. She said the company had a copy of the test report and the contract with the district but declined to share them. She also said that other companies dumped dirt on the site. The spokesperson, like the district, declined to say where the soil originated.
District representative Russo was unavailable throughout the day for comment.
The district has yet to release the soil report to the public; however, according to 10News, “Out of 14 samples, 10 show elevated levels of lead, pesticides — including DDT — or petroleum hydrocarbons linked to underground gasoline storage tanks.”
The dirt mound, which is deposited at the rear of Southwest’s football field, abuts the Evergreen Condominium complex. Robert Griffin, an HOA manager for the condos, said in a June 26 interview that he has been receiving calls from residents who are anxious about the toxicity of the dirt. Griffin said he is “in the process of communicating with the district about the problem.”