By Evan Mohl

The Cove Herald

Despite recently released data that two Texas high school football stadiums contained levels of lead far exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for soil, Copperas Cove’s Bulldawg Stadium will not have its turf tested in the immediate future.

On Monday, the Copperas Cove school board received a recommendation from an independently contracted consultant — the Texas Association of School Boards — to not examine and analyze the turf. Bulldawg Stadium’s field, however, will be closed indefinitely for safety precautions while the track remains open.

“We’re in a holding pattern,” said Coppers Cove Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Rose Cameron. “We want to do what’s best for our kids, but we want to do it right and what we’re advised.”

Killeen Independent School District already tested its turf at Leo Buckely Stadium, which has been closed since Dec. 19. KISD employed a different consultant: the San Marcos-based Burcham Environmental Services. Results have not been released.

Both Bulldawg and Buckley stadiums use AstroPlay turf. The same brand produced toxic levels of lead according to the initial Associated Press report. Two separate independent agencies found lead levels roughly 14 and 10 times the EPA standard respectively at football fields in Odessa and Birdville.

Although both analyses at the Texas fields discovered the harmful toxin only in the turf’s innermost fibers, additional testing at Birdville found nearly twice the EPA limit for lead in drinking water in the field’s runoff. It’s a possible indication that the lead is being released into the environment.

KISD purchased the AstroPlay turf in 2003, the same year Birdville and Odessa installed their fields. Cove outfitted Bulldawg Stadium in 2001.

The turf’s manufacturer, Leander-based Southwest Recreational Industries Inc., went out of business in 2004.

“As soon as we heard about it, we shut (Leo Buckley) down,” said KISD Athletics Director Tom Rogers.

Jonie Arrott, TASB’s representative to CCISD, advised the school board not to test for levels of lead. According to Cameron, Arnott made the recommendation because there remains little guidance or solutions.

Currently, the EPA, along with the Department of Health and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, have no recommendations or suggestions to organizations that use a field containing high lead levels. No agency requires testing.

“There’s no guidance out there from any respectable or government oversight agency,” Cameron said. “We’re going to listen to our experts.”

TASB, a non-profit organization founded in 1949 to support school districts, has previously been contracted by CCISD to address asbestos and mold issues.

Contact Evan Mohl at or (254) 501-7564.

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