Safety officials remove soil contamination found at LP Washburn Tennis Courts


The K-State Public Safety team was notified earlier this month about contaminated soil at the construction site of the new tennis courts and handball project located at the L.P. Washburn Tennis Courts. The tennis courts are located of off Kimball Avenue near the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex. 

The soil was found to be contaminated with diesel fuel. After the discovery, the area was roped off and closed until its removal. 

“The buildings, courts and parking lot have been removed,” said Steve Galitzer, director of environmental health and safety. “Once the construction company started to move the earth is when the contamination was discovered.”  

The contamination was positioned about six to 12 inches below the surface of the tennis courts, which were originally built in 1962. Galitzer and his team thought the contamination was from dirt used to fill the area at that time and did some research that turned out to be inconclusive.

“My team did some research about the area, all we could come up with was the dirt that was used for fill in was contaminated,” Galitzer said. 

The age of the contaminated dirt led to the idea that it was contamination from the fill dirt used to level off the area back in 1962. 

“The dirt was old,” said Kelly Greene, hazardous waste manager. “The contamination was possibly from the construction in 1962.”  

After the contamination was discovered, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment was called in to help with clean-up. They gave advice to the K-State Environmental Health and Safety team on how to handle the situation.

About 100 yards of contaminated dirt was removed. The contamination was discovered on Oct. 9 and was shipped out to a Topeka landfill on Oct. 25.

“The dirt was taken to Rolling Meadows Landfill to be disposed of.” said Ashton Rucker, public information officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. 

After removal of the contaminated soil, the construction company was able to continue its work and complete the leveling of the soil. 

“The land is leveled and clean and ready for construction.” Galitzer said. 

With two teams working on the contamination, the task was able to be handled and taken care of very quickly.

“We made sure it was all handled properly and was disposed of under the proper guidelines,” Galitzer said.