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Bayshore High gets clean bill of health on irrigation wells but questions remain

While the mystery surrounding the inordinate number of rare cancer cases among students and faculty at the old Bayshore High School remains unsolved, the groundwater and two irrigation wells at the current campus have tested clean, according to results presented at Tuesday's Manatee School Board workshop.

Brian Moore, principal engineer at GHD, and GHD senior geologist Kenneth Caldwell, presented the board with findings from a recent study, undertaken as the district and alumni continue to grapple with questions about the school's history and the high number of alumni suffering from rare illnesses.

The firm took groundwater samples at two irrigation wells on campus property this summer, testing for a litany of contaminants. Zinc, nickel, lead and mercury were detected, but at acceptably low levels that presented "no significant concerns." Moore explained that these metals occur naturally and are expected to be in the aquifer at the low levels discovered (click here to view test results, and here to view the conclusion summary).

While the results are important in establishing the safety of conditions for the students and faculty at the current campus (which was built on the same footprint of the old campus in 1997), they unfortunately offer no answers in the ongoing quest of alumni to find out whether and to what extent water contamination factored into the cancer anomalies. During the workshop, the district confirmed that it still cannot definitively answer the question as to where the school got its drinking water prior to being connected to public water, sewer and solid waste in April of 1998.