Ballparks to reopen after arsenic tests

Testing by parent raised concerns, so St. Johns County conducted more tests

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County declared its baseball fields safe Friday after test results came back for arsenic levels in the soil.

The testing was done after a baseball player's parent conducted his own testing and declared several of the county fields unsafe due to high arsenic levels.

The testing left the fields closed for about three weeks.

Ponte Vedra Thunder coach Chris Keller was happy to learn the county's testing found arsenic levels that are not considered a health concern.

"I'm glad to hear it's not," Keller said. "I didn't think it was too bad to begin with, but I'm just glad it's getting settled and we're going to be able to get back on our schedule with the boys."

Two weeks ago, a concerned parent -- who's also a hydrologist -- tested the baseball fields at Davis Park and Cornerstone Park and said in his opinion the arsenic levels were too high.

After receiving his results, St. Johns County decided to conduct its own tests.

Soil samples showed a variety of arsenic levels, some as low as 3 parts per million, one over 21 ppm.

"We got some results back and they came in a pretty broad range of numbers, but there were no numbers that caused us any undue concern," said Jerry Cameron, St. Johns County assistant administrator of community services.

The county will maintenance its fields within the coming week and has already started using a new filler dirt.

"Just for the peace of mind of the community," Cameron said. "We've identified a source for this product that has less than a quarter of the average arsenic content out there."

Baseball practice will be at the Davis Park tee-ball fields until the new dirt is placed. Keller said his players can't wait.

"That's what it's all about: the boys," Keller said. 

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