WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Crews were at Bowman Gray Stadium Thursday, the day after the city of Winston-Salem said they found high concentrations of methane gas in and around the stadium.
“Right now it’s about characterizing what the issues are at the location; do we have any health risk or safety risk?” said Winston-Salem Director of Stormwater and Erosion Control Keith Huff.
Huff told FOX8 that the crews have found methane gas levels as high as 50 percent on the stadium grounds. However, that high concentration is not the worst-case scenario.
Huff says the methane gas levels need to be between 5 and 15 percent to be combustible.
“Anything higher than that is too rich to explode and anything lower than that is not concentrated enough to explode,” Huff said.
It’s not the soil that the city is worried about.
“If it’s in the soil, it’s not [going to] be that hazardous, because it’s got to get into the open environment in that combustible range and then have that ignition source,” Huff said.
Instead, they’re testing the structures in and around the stadium to see if dangerous levels of the gas have accumulated inside them.
“They’re working to sweep this entire area,” Huff said. “To make sure that we don’t have any safety issues.”
Huff said the city will be testing some properties in the neighborhoods next to the stadium.
“That puts me in a bind,” said a woman who wished to go by “Lisa Brown,” who told FOX8 she’d been living in the area for 10 years. “If I have to move, where am I [going to] go?”
Huff told FOX8 that they have not found any safety risks as of yet. Residents in the neighborhoods around the stadium will be contacted if their property needs to be tested. He does not believe residents need to take any precautionary measures.
“I don’t know what to do. But I wish the best, and hope that we can still stay here and they find out what’s going on,” Brown said.
Huff says they will need to wait for the results before deciding if they need a plan to remediate the methane gas.
He also couldn’t say if there was a way to harvest the gas to use it as an energy source.
“We’re not to that point yet. We’re just trying to figure out what we’ve got,” Huff said. “Public health and safety are the number one concerns now.”
Huff could not say if the methane gas findings will affect the potential sale of the stadium to Winston-Salem State University. As of now, he said there is no threat to the races scheduled in the future.