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Clendenin Elementary Site Visit (copy)

Construction for the future entrance of the new Clendenin Elementary is seen on Oct. 18.

The Kanawha County school system announced Wednesday it has paused construction of the new Clendenin Elementary after a problematic mineral was found at the site.

“Pyritic sulfur has been identified in the soil, which can potentially be expansive, compromising the integrity of the foundation and floor slab,” the district said in a news release.

“We are working to minimize any impact on the project schedule and budget,” the district announced. “We sincerely hope that this is just a precautionary investigation and that we’ll be able to move forward very soon.”

Waterford, Ohio-based Wolf Creek Contracting is building the school. Dave Shell, project manager for the company and based in West Virginia, said some work on road access and utilities installation is continuing while the soil testing progresses.

“I have optimistic outlooks for all this and for work to continue within the next week to two weeks,” Shell said.

The school system said its on-site overseer of the construction companies, a role called the clerk of the works, discovered the issue when he saw “iron staining on fill materials at the site adjacent to concrete that was placed.”

“A sampling plan was proposed, in order to determine the total sulfur content of the fill material placed within the interior [sub-slab] areas of the proposed building,” the news release said.

Shell said, “we have poured zero square foot of slab.” He also said the clerk of the works wasn’t who discovered the issue.

“This was discovered by Buck Stanley, Wolf Creek’s concrete superintendent,” Shell said. “He’s been doing this for 35 years, he recognized it and called attention to [it to] everybody, even the local engineers.”

It has been over five years since the June 2016 flood damaged the original Clendenin Elementary.

The school system relocated students from there to Bridge Elementary and trailer classrooms right outside it, and officially consolidated those two schools.

The new building will be the new home of the consolidated school, finally eliminating the trailers.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, pyritic sulfur is found in coal and occurs as the minerals pyrite and marcasite.

Ryan Quinn covers education. He can be reached at 304-348-1254 or Follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

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