Toxic soil filled with arsenic and lead has forced a major cleanup effort at East Broad Elementary School and Matilda Beasley Park next door. Now, nearly all the park's trees have been ripped out. Most of the trees have been removed because traces of those toxins were found in the roots and CSX officials say they're not taking any chances.
These days, you can't tell where the school yard ends and the park begins. Turned up soil and torn up trees litter the ground of this park that used to be open to the public.
"We didn't want to do that, but that's just the simple case," said Gary Sease with CSX. "We want to be absolutely make sure that the margin of safety is what it needs to be."
Lead and arsenic reached into the tree roots along with the grounds where children used to play. Now new dirt fills the ditches that were once considered toxic.
"We still have a lot of work to do on the campus, but we are absolutely going to make our goal of having the school ready for faculty and the students to come back to a safe environmental," said Sease.
Although the soil and trees are not toxic enough to cause any harm, the extensive work has spread nearly a whole city block. But CSX officials say they're right on schedule with the school so work on the park will step up.
"We should be able to start the excavation phase in the park with in the next seven to ten days, so we're optimistic that it might finish early but we'll stick with mid October," said project manager Matt Adkins.
Now laying nearly stripped of all its shade, officials say it had to be done just to be on the safe side. "As we've heard the public say, we want a safe park, a safe school, and some trees are going to be sacrificed," said Sease.