Construction workers preparing the site for a new school in the east end of St. John's are digging up an array of debris that was discarded by the American military more than a half-century ago, including an airplane fuselage.

The location is the site of a former dump for the old Fort Pepperell army base, which operated from 1940 to 1961.

The amount of garbage and waste being dug is slowing down site preparation and remediation efforts, but is not expected to delay the September 2016 opening of the new school, Transportation and Works Minister David Brazil said Thursday.

Brazil said it's costing extra money to safely dispose of the material, which includes, among other things, vehicle parts, appliances and building materials.

The airplane fuselage was the most surprising item to come out of the ground.

"If you go down 10 feet and you figure there will be metals to that, and then you find the top of a fuselage that goes another 20 feet, well, you can't just cut off the top off that. You have to go down and remediate the rest of the land," Brazil stated.

First of two contracts

The school will replace Virginia Park Elementary, which is located adjacent to the site on Middleton Street. The kindergarten to Grade 6 school has a student enrolment of 185 students.

The provincial government awarded a $3.3 million contract in August to Marco Services Ltd. of St. John's.

The contract includes site preparation and remediation, the construction of foundations and footings, the assembly of structural steel and the installation of water and sewer.

A second contract, which  has yet to issued, will include construction of the building.

Parents have been lobbying for many years for a new school.