No contamination found in tests, say Buncombe County School officials

from Buncombe County Schools

On August 8 and 14, 2012, water samples were taken from a monitoring well in close proximity to the Buncombe County Schools Administration facility located at 175 Bingham Road. The samples were tested for the presence of 59 different chemicals and carcinogens by three separate laboratories. This particular monitoring well, the closest to the buildings owned by the school system, was last tested in 1995, at which time the results indicated that none of the substances tested for were detected. Seventeen years later, all three laboratory reports for the samples taken from the same monitoring well in August 2012 came back “ND” (“Non Detect”), just as the 1995 report showed, indicating no contamination near actual BCS facilities.

Concerns over contamination in monitoring wells on BCS-owned land a considerable distance away led to the testing of the monitoring well closer to the BCS facilities. While the BCS complex is located across the street from properties on the inactive hazardous sites list, it has been on City water since the property was purchased by the school system in 1989. Well water has never been utilized by the school system for drinking or other purposes.

“Even though we are on City water and have no reason to believe we have an issue in our buildings,” says Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin, “we take health and safety issues seriously. We are very pleased with the test results from the monitoring well closest to our buildings, which confirm the results of the testing done 17 years ago. We will have additional information shortly, as we have approved the drilling of an additional monitoring well close to our buildings. The additional well will be installed by Schneider-Electric, the parent company of the former Square-D corporation, with concurrence of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR).”

The former Square-D plant was purchased by the school system in 1989 due to its central location and ability to house a Career Education Center accessible to all students in the county. Following a public hearing, the Board of Education voted to close the CEC at the end of the 2010-11 school year, with the goal of revamping the school into a more relevant facility for 21st century students, such as a STEM-themed high school.

A complete history of the site, the building purchase, and relevant environmental information will be provided as a presentation to the Buncombe County Board of Education at a workshop to be held as soon as the test results from the additional monitoring well are available. Notice of the workshop date and time will be provided when known, and the public and media are invited to attend. If you have questions in the meantime, contact BCS Communications Director Jan Blunt, 828-255-5997 or

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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