Concentration of metal discovered around Northwest Community Center

Larry Kerska and Roger Hare work a metal detector for buried 55-gallon drums of suspected toxic waste. (Photo by Richard S. Gubbe)

By Richard S. Gubbe
Contributing Writer

The Rock River Times (TRRT), with assistance from a local metal detector enthusiast, has discovered metallic material below the ground in the areas around the Northwest Community Center as well as the fields north of Kent Creek up near the border of Searls Park on Rockford’s west side.

In part one of last week’s special report in TRRT, local residents alleged the burial of 55-gallon drums, toxic substances and other materials went on from the 1950s through the 1980s in that area. Allegations of burying barrels of toxic substances in green pools in the area north of Kent Creek as well as the burial of barrels and other items under the football and baseball fields just north of the Northwest Community Center were made during the interviews with the local residents.

The metal detector used reacted to metal 1 inch to at least 2 feet down. Brushing aside soil in a bare spot in left field of the baseball field yielded a hollow object that appeared to be metal.

Larry Kerska, introduced to TRRT through J Kamin Jewelers at 250 N. Mulford Road in Rockford, took his sensitive metal detector, which retails for $1,000, in a search last Monday, Sept. 5. Kerska, member and former treasurer of the Northern Illinois Watch and Clock Collectors Club, has been using metal detection equipment for the past three years.

Accompanied by three witnesses, Kerska and TRRT walked the fields and woods north of the creek, as well as the athletic fields and land around the parking lot at the center.

There’s too much metal under here. It registers too much,” Kerska said while walking out where the sludge ponds are alleged to exist.

Kerska’s metal detector also constantly showed the existence of metal under the athletic fields. The intermittent beeping showed signs of heavy metal every few feet in the area north of the creek and along the bike path. The detector also exhibited signals of metal underneath the asphalt bike path.

Unearthing could show where the materials came from, according to environmental law attorney Chris Nidel of Washington, D.C.

The metal detector used, the White’s Electronics 300, used a sensitive program called Relic that seeks out metals 2 feet deep, Kerska said.

Out in left field on the baseball diamond, one bare spot revealed metal sticking up just 1 inch below the surface. The area around the parking lot where the center stands “is loaded with metal underneath,” Kerska said.

Witnesses present included Rockford residents Paul Kegel, Roger Hare and Bryan Redington.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2011, issue

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