Marblehead students go from Gerry to Coffin


MARBLEHEAD — Elbridge Gerry School remained closed this week following last week’s heating oil spill during a standard delivery.

School officials had hoped the school would open on Tuesday, but air quality test results received the day before detected too much petroleum in the air.

“The results were high still,” said Ken Lord, executive director of technology and operations for Marblehead Public Schools. That didn’t surprise us. There was still an odor in the classroom … We made the decision to not have them come back at all this week and have them stay at the Coffin School.”

Lord said two additional air quality tests were conducted this week and the results will be back today. From there, he said school officials will be reviewing the results with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the town’s Board of Health and then make a decision on whether to reopen.

“We hope to open on Monday,” Lord said.

The K-1 school on Elm Street was closed on Jan. 10 after 16 gallons of heating oil spilled when the truck’s hose popped off the fill spout during the delivery. The rogue hose sprayed heating oil onto the side of the building, the parking lot and onto a parked car.

Lord said the spill displaced eight classrooms with 153 students.

The call for the spill came in before students reported to school that morning, and school officials were able to inform parents they should drop off their children at the nearby Coffin School.

Lord said clean-up has been completed and his understanding is that the oil odor is completely gone. The clean-up was being paid for by the oil company’s insurance company which contracted NRC, National Response Corporation. The company also enlisted Wilcox & Barton, Inc., an environmental and consulting and engineering firm for the air quality testing. Both report to MassDEP.

Gayla Cawley can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

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