A 12,000-ton pile of contaminated dirt that last year was dumped beside the athletic fields at Southwest High School in Nestor came from a San Diego construction site and did not pose a health threat, the Sweetwater Union High School District announced Friday.
District spokeswoman Graciela Sevilla said the administration at Southwest High at the time had the dirt brought in from a public works project at 43rd Street and Logan Avenue, east of downtown San Diego.
They wanted to build a berm alongside of the football field and place a "Raiders" sign on it in an effort to increase school spirit, she said.
Instead, the dirt had to undergo multiple tests for contaminants and hauled off, which is expected to cost the district more than $500,000.
"Everybody that was involved with the project is no longer working with the district," Sevilla said. Since there was "no readily available paper trail" it took a while to find out how the dirt actually got to the school.
The dirt tested positive for lead and pesticides, but district officials said Friday the levels were so low that there was no health risk.
The California Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered the dirt be removed so it does not interrupt irrigation or drainage, said Chief of Facilities Executive Tom Calhoun.
"It's suitable for residential use, but the water board was concerned about runoff, pollution to streams and sediment, said Alfredo Rios, Supervising Hazardous Substances Scientist with the state's Department of Toxic Substances Control.
The work to get rid of the dirt, which is being performed by the company Advanced Chemical Transport and going to a landfill in Azusa in Los Angeles County, is expected to be finished Monday, according to the district.
"The only thing I care about is that we'll play our first football game here Aug. 31, and the field's going to be beautiful," said Southwest principal Lee Romero.
City News Service contributed to this report.