The results are in. Four months after county officials made the call to again test the water at Bayshore High School, where some alumni believe was the stage of a possible cancer cluster, findings suggest that groundwater samples are “no significant concern.”
The School Board of Manatee County is set to hear these conclusions at Tuesday afternoon’s workshop by GHD, a Tampa-based engineering consultant, with senior geologist Ken Caldwell and principal engineer Brian Moore presenting the information.
According to results sent to Ron Ciranna, the school district’s deputy superintendent of business services and operations, Caldwell and Moore reviewed all of the district’s documents on the history of Bayshore High School, but there were no water testing data in these files, the report said.
They identified eight possible sources of environmental contamination, from the agricultural building, to materials with asbestos to the irrigation wells.
As the site of the high school was once used for agriculture, they found that the chemicals “would present minimal risk” to students “because any exposure would be limited in duration.”
Chemicals like pesticides and fungicides were stored in various buildings at the school, but Caldwell and Moore concluded that such a short exposure to such products wouldn’t be a risk.
There were some materials that had contained asbestos as the school was going through construction, but the reviewers concluded that the site was managed well and therefore lowered the risk of exposure.
“Thus, although several potential concerns were identified, GHD considers the human health risk associated with the potential environmental concerns to site occupants identified herein to be minimal,” the report read.
Groundwater samples at two irrigation wells, located to the west of the school’s tennis courts and another about 350 feet west of that, were taken in mid-August.
Jupiter Environmental Laboratories, Inc. tested for things like organophosphorus pesticides and volatile organic compounds. According to the report, levels of selenium and zinc were “well below” the cleanup target levels, but the entirety of the results showed nothing above what is allowed by Florida’s cleanup target levels, and “no significant concerns have been identified,” the report read.
A group of alumni, headed by class of 1981 graduate Cheryl Jozsa, who unofficially keeps track of former Bayshore Bruins’ health, is concerned that students’ cancer deaths could be related to off-site pollution, as there is a non-National Priorities List Superfund site to the north of the campus. Jozsa also was concerned that there are no records of how the school was connected to utilities prior to 1985.
The school board workshop will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom at 215 Manatee Ave. W.