Gastineau Elementary School closed its new playground equipment Thursday after discovering small wires in the rubber ground covering.
Kristin Bartlett is the school district’s public information officer.
“The material that is laid down underneath the playground equipment is small pieces of rubber so that if children fall off of the equipment, then they have a soft ground covering to land on, and in the little pieces of rubber, students discovered small hard wires. They’re sharp, sharp little wires.”
The playground equipment was checked by a CBJ safety officer Thursday morning, and Bartlett says Gastineau Elementary principal decided to close it. The school district’s maintenance department has constructed a temporary fence around the area until the problem is fixed.
CBJ engineering director Rorie Watt says the wires are probably from used car tires that are recycled to make the playground’s rubber ground covering.
“We’ve used the chip rubber all over town in other playgrounds and we haven’t run into this problem before.”
Watt says his department has talked to the manufacturer Site Lines Park and Playground Products out of Everett, Washington. Standard protocol is to go through the area with metal detectors and what are called “super magnets.”
“You take a metal detector and you calibrate the metal detector to the little pieces of wire that you found so you have it dialed to the right level of sensitivity. And then you walk through the area and when your metal detector goes off, you take the magnets and thoroughly drag them through the rubber, and they’re so strong that any metal will stick to them and you just sweep through the whole thing like that.”
Watt says the manufacturer has sent out the super magnets and anticipates Gastineau’s new playground equipment opening up sometime next week.
In the meantime, other parts of the playground, including a covered play area, ball field, swing set, climbing wall, and outdoor basketball courts are still open for student use.