Ashwaubenon athletic fields closed due to PCBs

This baseball practice field in Ashwaubenon has been closed due to possible PCB contamination.

ASHWAUBENON - Some athletic fields at Ashwaubenon High School have been closed because of contamination.

The school district says tests confirmed there were potentially dangerous PCBs present.

Ashwaubenon baseball practices moved to Ashwaubomay Park after PCBs were found beneath a field.

“Just taking precautionary measures to make sure it's safe for kids, because there is some level of contamination there. Back even when the practice field was identified the DNR informed us that it was okay to keep using the fields. We decided not to,” said Ashwaubenon Superintendent of Schools Brian Hanes.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls or PCBs were used in carbonless paper printing in this area prior to 1979.

The cancer-causing chemical compound was eventually banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“That is an old historical landfill area, that was a landfill site in its day. Probably does not come as a big surprise to some people but we just want to make sure that everyone's safe. That the kids are safe,” said Hanes.

Village President Mike Aubinger says finding PCBs was always a possibility, but most contaminates are far enough into the ground where it's not dangerous.

"We knew that material was there for a long, long time. So, you know, if I knew in 1965 what I know today, would I put the high school there? Probably not, but hindsight is 20/20,” said Aubinger.

Hanes says soil samples were taken in the spring as part of the community center building project.

“We will be capping the practice field this summer,” said Hanes.

That means this summer, crews will put down a layer of clay, and then place topsoil over it. Hanes says the football field isn't affected because it has artificial turf.

“There is not a safety concern as far as any surface level contamination,” said Hanes.

We spoke with parents as they picked up their students Friday. Most hadn't heard about the contamination.

"I was not aware this was a landfill at one time and the problems they're having with it. So I was surprised,” said Sandy Neuser, whose grandson is a freshman at the school.

Final test results of the soil will be finished in the next few weeks.

The PCB testing was in an area where the community center project approved by the multi-million dollar April referendum.

Aubinger says some of that money could possibly go to cover the cost of fixing the issue.