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Northport Middle School

The Northport/East Northport Community Drug & Alcohol Task Force hosts its 6th annual Color Run on Saturday, Nov. 4. Photo courtesy NENDATF

Hundreds gathered at Northport Middle School on Saturday, Nov. 4, in support of the 6th annual Color Run hosted by the Northport/East Northport Community Drug & Alcohol Task Force.

The Color Run is a unique and vibrant event that combines the elements of a fun run with an explosion of color, fun and community spirit. Participants donned white t-shirts, symbolic of a blank canvas, and raced through the course, where they were showered by volunteers with nontoxic, biodegradable colored powder at various “color stations” along the route.

The run culminates in a “finish festival” featuring music, dancing, games and a photo booth. Several organizations operated information booths as well, including the Family & Children’s Association, Hands Across Long Island, Gabriel’s Giving Tree, Families in Support of Treatment, CN Guidance Counseling Services, Seafield, and more.

The event was made possible due to generous sponsorships by Geico and National Event Connection, as well as hard work by community volunteers and students from 1Life Youth Coalition and the Northport High School Wilderness Club.

The annual Color Run coincides with R.A.P. — Recovery, Awareness, Prevention — Week in the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District, during which students participate in age-appropriate group programming and activities that provide valuable education on the dangers of substance use.

“R.A.P. Week is a great way to impart valuable lessons about making smart choices when it comes to drugs, but we also have to show people how much joy and color can be found in everyday life,” said Linda Oristano, project coordinator for the NENDATF. “I’m incredibly grateful to our volunteers for their hard work and generosity, and to everyone in the community who showed up to support this beautiful cause.”

The NENDATF is a community organization founded in 2006 to address the devastation and loss of life caused by the drug epidemic and highlight support structures for those in recovery.

For more information about how to get involved, visit www.ndatf.org.

Concerns about students with health problems prompted the temporary closing of Northport Middle School in 2020 and was one of the reasons the state Department of Health conducted a study of cancer cases in the district. File photo by Lina Weingarten

Residents of the Northport-East Northport school district have waited anxiously for the recent report by the New York State Department
of Health.

According to a NYSDOH study, the investigation of cancer incidents in the school district between 1999 and 2018 was initiated by the department “in response to an inquiry from members of the community who shared information about leukemias and other cancers diagnosed among members of the Northport High School graduating class of 2016 since their graduation and among other children and young adults in the Northport area.” The report also mentioned health concerns cited about Northport Middle School students.

In January 2020, the district decided to close the middle school for a few months after the consulting firm hired by the district, P.W. Grosser Consulting, tested the soil on the grounds and found elevated levels of benzene in two separate septic systems on site. Before a cleanup, three science classrooms in the middle school’s G-wing were closed out of an abundance of caution. During the investigation, it was found science rooms had sinks that drain into the leaching pool, where the mercury and silver were found. While odorless fumes could have potentially migrated through the piping into classrooms, the drain systems rely on P traps that prevent that from occurring, according to the district at the time. Air quality results in the G-wing classrooms were later found to be normal.

The DOH’s primary source of data was the New York State Cancer Registry. For the years after 2018, registry data was not official at the time of analyses, according to the DOH report. 

“We identified 4,593 cases of cancer among district residents, compared with 4,454 that would be expected,” the report read. “This 3% excess was statistically significant, meaning it was unlikely to occur by chance.”

An increase in pancreatic cancer, malignant melanoma of the skin, uterine (corpus) cancer and prostate cancer made up the excess. The report went on to say, “There were significantly fewer than expected numbers of cases of stomach cancer and lung cancer. Numbers of cases of leukemia, other blood cancers (Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas and multiple myeloma), and 13 other types of cancer examined separately were not significantly different from expected.”

While the community around East Northport Middle School had about the expected cases, the area around Northport Middle School had 7% higher-than-expected levels of cancer.

Regarding the number of 2016 high school graduates who came down with leukemia, the study concluded, “It is possible that the elevated occurrence of leukemia among 2016 graduates could be related to factors not possible to uncover, including environmental exposures.” 

Robert Banzer, district superintendent of schools, sent out a letter June 23 to community members to notify them that the study was completed. In the letter, he said, “The district fully cooperated with the NYSDOH during this process.”

After summarizing the findings in the letter, he said, “We appreciate the hard work of the NYSDOH in this endeavor and look forward to continuing to provide our students and staff with a safe learning environment.”

Lawsuits and disappointment in health study

Attorney Lilia Factor, of Melville-based Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, said her law firm has filed three lawsuits for nine plaintiffs so far against the Northport-East Northport school district. One of them is a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of all Northport Middle School students. The others are on behalf of individuals who have become sick. She is aware of at least five other lawsuits in total as other law firms have filed lawsuits against the district in the Suffolk County Supreme Court.

On July 12, according to Factor, the court consolidated lawsuits for the purposes of exchanging documents and depositions. A most recently filed case from Napoli Shkolnik was not included as a judge has not been assigned yet.

Tara Mackey is one of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit. She said her daughter suffered from migraine headaches while studying at Northport Middle School and developed asthma. When Mackey brought her daughter to the doctor for her headaches, carbon monoxide was found in her blood.

“She had to get blood tests every four to six weeks for the remainder of time that she was in the school, and it just showed a pattern of when they would test her blood after, say, five days a week of school, she would have very high levels of carbon monoxide in her blood and then when they tested it during holidays or summer break, it was perfectly normal,” Mackey said.

Factor said while Mackey’s daughter was fortunate not to get cancer, she and other students are at a higher risk of developing illness later in life due to latency periods, a fact she said the NYSDOH report acknowledges. If the class-action suit is successful, anyone who becomes sick in later years would be covered. In cases such as this, a fund is established where people can be tested or a protocol would be distributed to local doctors to know what to look for if a patient attended Northport Middle School 

“We want there to be a medical monitoring program established for everyone so that they can screen people and watch them, and if they develop any symptoms of a serious illness that’s associated with these contaminants to try to catch it early,” Factor said.

Mackey said the health issues can weigh heavily on families, and many of them faced criticism in Northport when they brought the problems to the district. She and her family moved to South Carolina after they were harassed by community members creating uncomfortable situations.

“We endured a lot of harassment, along with a lot of other parents, from people in the community that didn’t want bad press about any potential environmental issues that could lead to health problems for people in the school and the community, because people feared for their property values,” she said. “It just made a very uncomfortable situation for many of us, and we moved because we couldn’t keep our kids safe.”

She added, coincidentally, two other families, who she didn’t know while living in Northport, moved near her.

Factor said while it is good that the DOH conducted the report, the study didn’t look at other factors such as families who have moved away and may have been diagnosed with an illness.

“They would not be part of those statistics, which were in themselves pretty disturbing,” Factor said.

She added the DOH didn’t talk to or survey community members and medical providers.

“It’s good that they did something, but it really needs to be a lot more comprehensive if they really want to understand cancer incidence in this community.” Factor said.

The attorney and Mackey added there have been other illnesses that have surfaced such as scleroderma and aplastic anemia. Mackey said that she was also disappointed that the study was cut off at the year 2018 as she has heard of more cases of cancer that have been diagnosed recently and therefore not counted.

“I just think all of the families and the parents, children themselves, they at least deserve the facts and the full facts,” the mother said. “Nothing can change at this point. We can’t change what happened to our children, but at least we can take charge and be observant and try to keep them in the best health possible and at least know what to look for.”

Northport Middle School has been deemed safe to reopen. Photo from Northport-East Northport Union Free School District

Following the release of Bohemia-based P.W Grosser Consulting’s environmental report on Northport Middle School that deemed the building safe to reopen, district officials addressed questions from parents and community members at a virtual forum June 25.

District officials hope that the over-three-hour meeting, which had a lengthy question-and-answer portion, is the first step in reassuring the community as remediation work continues to take place at the middle school.

PWGC senior project manager, Jennifer Lewis, said that the district should prepare a management plan to deal with the arsenic found in soils within the track field. The firm recommended that the district should do routine maintenance of the HVAC system, conduct sanitization of roof drains and have a roofing contractor inspect the roof drains to determine if they are properly sealed.

In addition, the firm asked for the district to seal the sanitary system and remove gas tanks from the school. The district has already begun some of the remediation work including moving school buses off campus to another location on Brightside Avenue.

“‘Safe to occupy’ is our collective opinion based on our investigation of the site,” Lewis said. “We did not identify a concern with a path of exposure that would render the building unsafe for students or staff to occupy. As long as the ongoing maintenance and remediations mentioned continue, we do consider this matter to be resolved.”

Trustee members praised PWGC for its work.

“There were a lot of dots that needed to be connected in terms of previous studies, to have a clear narrative of examples of the environmental conditions at the school,” said trustee Larry Licopoli. 

“This study addressed the whole picture in a way that wasn’t done before,” he said.

Parents and community members asked PWGC if the problems found at the school could have caused previous ailments children and staff faced over the years.

The environmental firm couldn’t give a definitive answer.

“We can’t say in the past this wasn’t making them sick — we can’t recreate the past,” said PWGC project manager Heather Moran-Botta.

Moran-Botta reiterated that the firm is confident that the school is safe.

“We can only say, based on what we are seeing now, the building is safe for occupancy,” she said.

Trustee members will vote to approve all recommendations at a July 9 board meeting.

Northport Middle School closed after contamination concerns. File photo

Northport Middle School, which has been closed since January, has been deemed safe to reopen, according to an environmental firm’s report released last week.

P.W. Grosser Consulting, a Bohemia-based environmental firm hired by the district, detailed that following its investigation it found no environmental concern that would render the middle school “unsafe to occupy”.

“While several items of concern were identified during the investigation, each is addressable and does not require the school to be closed to implement,” the firm stated in its nearly 7,000-page report.

District officials have planned a virtual forum for Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m. to further discuss the report’s findings with parents and community members. Previously, in March, Robert Banzer, superintendent of schools, said that the district would consider reopening the school after review of the firm’s finding and remediation work.

Banzer could not be reached for comment before press time.

Among the firm’s findings included poorly set manholes that resulted in sewage odor escaping from the system, detection of carbon monoxide in one wing of the building while buses were exiting in the morning, low levels of benzene found in an art room and levels of arsenic discovered at the school’s track. In addition, PWGC detected a “burnt” smell in room N-103, the cause being a rubbing belt inside a vent.

The firm also found “evidence of rotting organic matter, likely from nearby trees,” that was found on roof drains, according to the report. PWGC recommended having drains sanitized and cleaned, adding that once cleaning had been done it noticed “a reduction or elimination of musty odors within the building.”

The status of the middle school has been a divisive topic in the community. Some want the school to remain closed, while others believe the school shouldn’t have been closed to begin with.

Rich Rowehl, a Northport parent of a seventh-grader in the district, said he is glad the firm’s report is done.

“I’m interested to hear what district officials and the consultants say about the findings at the virtual forum,” he said. “Then we’ll go from there, but it’s good to hear that the school is safe.”

Rowehl said he hopes the forum will be able to address any other concerns parents may still have and discuss ways the district will handle any lingering issues and areas of concerns from the report.

The firm could not find the cause for odors in rooms K-74 and K-75. In its report it stated that it believed that the furniture — benches and wood cabinetry — was the likely source of the odors.

“There are still some questions to be answered, though if the school is deemed safe then there could be a possibility that the students can return in September,” Rowehl said. “I’m hoping the report satisfies the community and that there is a sense of closure at the end of this.”

The district has already moved forward with some of the remediation work. It has relocated buses and bus depots off school grounds to another location in the village and is repairing the surrounding septic systems. There are plans to fix existing roof drains and other ceiling deficiencies as well as addressing the arsenic at the school track.

In a five-month span, P.W. Grosser tested inside of the school and the surrounding grounds, following foul odor complaints from students and staff members. In December 2019, students were relocated to another wing of the school due to the offensive smells. At the start of this year, the environmental firm detected elevated levels of mercury in cesspools outside the building, as well as high levels of benzene in two septic tanks. As a result, middle school students were transferred to other buildings throughout the district in mid-January for the remainder of the school year.

Northport Middle School closed after contamination concerns. File photo

Remediation work is currently underway at Northport Middle School, according to a district letter sent to parents March 12. The district also detailed that no toxic chemicals had reached the groundwater at the building.

Robert Banzer, superintendent of Northport-East Northport school district, said in the letter that an investigative data report from P.W. Grosser Consulting, of Bohemia, has been received and reviewed by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

Banzer said in order to receive a “notice to remediate,” which would allow for remediation work to start from SCDHS, PWGC had to send investigative data directly to the county agency.

“The full comprehensive study [from PWGC] is expected to be completed and reported to the community in the next few weeks,” the superintendent added.

According to the letter, the remediation work will consist of pumping out the “contaminated” sludge or liquid from the septic tanks and leaching pools. An industrial waste transporter, licensed and approved by the state, will remove the waste. SCDHS will be on site during what is called “end point sampling” which is a confirmatory sampling test conducted after remediation is performed to ensure that all waste has been removed. PWGC will then prepare an “underground injection control” remediation report documenting the results and, if acceptable, the county will indicate that remediation is complete, and no further action is required. District officials expect remediation work to take approximately one to three weeks.

Previously, PWGC found elevated levels of mercury in cesspools outside the building and high levels of benzene in two septic tanks. The middle school has been closed since January. 

At a March 5 board meeting, district officials said that reopening the school could be an option depending on what comes back from the ongoing remediation work as well future sampling and testing at the grounds. 

Rich Rowehl, a Northport parent of a seventh-grader in the district, said his daughter and other students have been resilient during the transition. Though he said they do feel “homesick.” 

“They feel like they don’t have a home,” he said. 

The status of the middle school has been a divisive topic in the community. Some want the school to remain closed, while others believe the school shouldn’t have been closed to begin with. 

“We don’t want a quick fix, we should wait for the results to come out,” the Northport parent said. “If they feel like it is safe to go back, then I’m sure the district will have those discussions.”  

Rowehl is confident the board can make the right decision with the information it is given, once the full report comes out.

“Let’s just play things out and see what happens,” he reiterated. 

Rowehl also brought up the ongoing demographic study in the district. He said they should wait on those results to determine what steps needed to be taken going forward. 

“Declining enrollment at the district could be a factor,” he said. “Do we need two middle schools, or could we be better off combining schools, or moving students to another building?” he said. “It’s something to think about.”

Northport Middle School closed after contamination concerns. File photo

A local U.S. senator is calling for a federal agency to assist in the toxic chemical investigation at Northport Middle School, which is closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in a Feb. 3 letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief, Andrew Wheeler, urged the EPA to join local and state regulators in conducting an investigation of toxic chemicals at the school and near the campus, as well as in the Northport-East Northport school district.

“Our children’s and workers’ health is too important to risk, therefore I urge EPA perform a comprehensive site investigation and take whatever action necessary to address any contamination found,” Schumer wrote.

The decision to close the middle school came after an investigation by Bohemia-based PW Grosser Consulting Inc. — the district’s environmental firm — which revealed elevated levels of mercury vapor outside one of the classrooms. Tests also found elevated levels of benzene in soil samples from septic systems around the school.

The school’s closing has resulted in the district relocating 660 sixth- to eighth-graders to other buildings, according to Schumer.

The senator expressed other big concerns.

“Just under 3 miles down the road from Northport Middle School, a [New York State Department of Health] review revealed that there was a statistically significant higher rate of leukemia among the Northport High School’s graduating class of 2016,” he wrote. “Consequently, the NYSDOH has launched a wider investigation into cancer occurrences throughout the Northport-East Northport school district.”

In the letter, Schumer included information from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. According to the public health agency, the major health effects of long-term exposure to benzene include damage to bone marrow and a decrease in red blood cells. Schumer added that long-term exposure to benzene in the air has been shown to cause leukemia according to multiple health agencies, while the EPA has determined benzene to be carcinogenic to humans.

“In the case of Northport Middle School, mercury vapors are especially concerning as, in this form, the mercury more easily reaches the brain,” he wrote.

Schumer urged the EPA “to utilize all of its available authority, as well as its considerable technical expertise, to quickly investigate and address the possible contamination around Northport Middle School and within Northport-East Northport school district.”

As part of the relocation plan, eight-graders were sent to Northport High School. File photo

Following the closure of Northport Middle School after elevated levels of benzene were found in two separate septic systems near the building, district officials and the community are adjusting to the relocation of more than 600 middle school students into three different schools.

The plan called for eight-graders to relocate to Northport High School, for seventh-graders to go to East Northport Middle School, and for sixth-graders to settle in at Norwood Avenue Elementary School beginning Jan. 24. 

Superintendent Robert Banzer said the first several days in their new buildings have gone well for NMS students. 

“I was happy to hear of how welcoming each school was to the NMS students on their first days, and I anticipate that their efforts to ensure a caring environment will continue,” he said. “As we move through this transition our families have been extremely patient and flexible.”

Rich Rowehl, a Northport parent who has a daughter in the seventh grade, said the first week of the transition has gone as good as it could have.

“To be able to pull off what they did [in a short amount of time] is a monumental task,” he said. “I commend the district for doing this, and I hope going forward we can find a workable [permanent] solution.”

The transition is still a work in progress, Rowehl said. Parents expressed concerns about crowded lunchrooms and lack of lockers at the board of education meeting that night. Sixth-graders at Norwood Avenue Elementary School don’t have access to lockers. Seventh-graders were moved into a larger cafeteria at ENMS due to the size of the class. The superintendent acknowledged that they are still ironing out some logistical issues.

Rowehl stressed that this is still an ongoing process and there’s a lot that needs to come out. 

“The firm is still conducting tests [at NMS],” he said. “We have to wait to see what else it finds. Then is it safe to return or does the school need to permanently close? We know they found mercury/benzene but what else is there?”

The Northport resident said the committee and district need to continue to be transparent on what the firm finds and strive to find a permanent solution that will make everyone happy. 

Ideas from community members and parents have been floated around. Due to decreasing enrollment in the district, one of the elementary schools could be repurposed as a new middle school, or possibly the William J. Brosnan administrative building could be reopened as a school. Banzer said there has been no discussion of a permanent plan outside of the closure of the building for the remainder of this school year, adding that PW Grosser Consulting will continue its testing and review all data prior to finalizing the report to the district.

Northport power plant. File photo

When the Town of Huntington’s planning board originally authorized in 1965 a site plan for the Northport power plant’s first generating unit on the shores of the Long Island Sound, the impact on the greater safety, health and general welfare of the community was an overarching concern. In fact, the town’s approval stipulated that plant operators were required to submit emissions reports to the town, which were subject to regular review by town officials. 

Today, the plant has expanded to four units, and while the town is still searching for records, officials do not know the last time the plant submitted an emission report from on-site monitors for a review. Town attorney Nick Ciappetta said the town is reviewing whether or not it has monitoring authority. The EPA and DEC, he said, have jurisdiction over plant emissions. 

Some lawmakers firmly disagree, and State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) is calling for action. 

“The town has had more power than it’s realized,” he said. “It should take whatever action it needs to take.”  

Gaughran said he regularly drives past the plant and smells foul odors. Last year, he requested a state health investigation after learning that graduates of Northport High School Class of 2016 were diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma, after community members said they want to know if the plant’s emissions are a factor. 

State health department investigators have now expanded their study to look at cancer rates in a broader population to look for patterns. (See story on Page A3) With that investigation underway, Gaughran finds it prudent to take steps to better protect the community. 

Town Council member Joan Cergol agrees. 

“If the Town, in its rezone of the property, or any of its agencies or boards in the 1960s imposed conditions on LILCO to protect the health and safety of Huntington residents, then it stands to reason that its successors should be bound by the same,” she said.

It is unclear what action if in any will be taken, but some are saying additional precautions would be prudent. 

Danielle DeSimone is one several young adults diagnosed with leukemia from the Northport High School Class of 2016, who received a bone marrow transplant and is now in remission. She said she would absolutely support any policies that would better protect the public’s health. 

“May no more families be faced with this burden unnecessarily,” she said in an email. 

As the state’s health investigation continues, and as the town bears the additional burden of fighting LIPA and National Grid, spending $4.2 million to date, many people are looking at the plant with a discerning eye. 

According to the DEC, the Northport Power Plant emissions are in severe violation of state and federal the air pollution standards for nitrous oxide and VOCs, which contribute to ozone. When inhaled, ozone chemicals react chemically with many biological molecules in the respiratory tract, the EPA reports, leading to adverse health effects.

It’s difficult to know whether or not a specific environmental toxin will cause a particular individual to develop cancer or other diseases, according to a 2003 report “Cancer and the Environment” published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

But significant sources of VOCs are chemical plants, gasoline pumps, oil-based paints, autobody shops, and print shops. Nitrogen oxides result primarily from high temperature combustion. Significant sources are power plants, industrial furnaces and boilers, and motor vehicles, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation Permit Review Report from February 2019.

In response to inquiries,  National Grid spokesperson Wendy Ladd said, “we submit our emissions report to the EPA and NY DEC.”

The DEC states that ozone is a regional air pollutant and most human and economic activity in the NYC metro area contribute in some way to ozone exceedences. 

“If the DEC finds any facility poses an imminent threat to public health or the environment, the agency works to address the situation immediately,” said DEC spokesman Kevin Frazier.  

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that the Town Attorney Nicholas Ciappetta said that the town had no authority over emissions monitoring.  The town is actually still reviewing the matter. (updated 1/29/2020)

East Northport Middle School invited sixth graders from Northport Middle School to view a Theatre Three theatrical touring production of “Class Dismissed: The Bullying Project” on Jan. 9.

Performers acted out scenarios to demonstrate that bullying, harassment and peer pressure can occur both inside and outside of school, including hallways, locker rooms, buses and even at home. Additionally, the production spoke about the influence social media has on one’s reputation, social cliques and rumors.

The production’s main message, however, was, “See it, say it, stop it.” The intention was to encourage students to stand up for each other to put an end to bullying. During a Q&A after the performance, the performers advised the middle school students to be upstanders rather than bystanders. “You really are the ones that can make a difference,” they said.

Theatre Three’s Educational Touring Company is available to come to your school or organization. For more information, call Marci at 631-928-9202.

Photos courtesy of the Northport-East Northport School District

Northport Middle School closed after contamination concerns. File photo

Northport-East Northport Union Free School District Superintendent Rob Banzer has decided, effective immediately, to close Northport Middle School for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year after P.W. Grosser Consulting, the environmental firm who has been testing soil around the school property, found on Saturday elevated levels of benzene in two separate septic systems on site.

Classes for the Northport Middle School students were cancelled for Tuesday, Jan. 21 and Wed. Jan. 22, and will resume on Jan. 23 in new locations.

“It is important to note that preliminary air testing indicated no observable detection of volatile organic compounds or VOCs, which includes benzene, inside the building, or from soil samples, as well as at the source of the septic tanks,” Banzer said in an email notice to parents sent at 4:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon. “However, in the best interest of students and staff and in consideration of ongoing testing and remediation, the building will be closed for the balance of the school year.”

During an unscheduled workshop with board members Wednesday,  Jan. 15, Banzer presented and reviewed a decisive contingency relocation plan for Northport Middle School students that ultimately became necessary to implement just days later.

The plan, developed with goals identified by all stakeholders, maintains the school’s curriculum, allows for spring sports, and enables students to access science labs. It was considered the best, least disruptive option.

As discussed during the workshop, transportation is feasible, but may require that some students change buses at the William J. Brosnan School building on Laurel Avenue. Additional drivers and buses might alleviate the need for transferring, Banzer said, but could be tough to secure.

“Although a great deal of the plan is already in place, we will need Tuesday and Wednesday to refine the logistics for staff and students, including scheduling, transportation and food service,” Banzer stated in his note to parents.

As explained to parents and reviewed in the Jan. 15 workshop:

  • Northport Middle School 8th graders will relocate to a special wing of the high school.
  • Northport Middle School 7th graders will relocate to East Northport Middle School.

Originally, Northport Middle School 6th graders were expected to be relocated to either Norwood Avenue or Bellerose Elementary schools. But, as explained in a letter sent to parents Jan. 20, the district opted to keep all of the 6th graders together at Norwood Avenue school. The gifted and talented program will instead be relocated to Bellerose

Suffolk County Department of Health Services requires that the site be remediated to remove the benzene. The health department also requires remediation for high levels of mercury and silver found in the leaching pools outside of the schools G-wing. Remediation plans are still under development.

Many parents have been conflicted about sending their children to the school. Students and staff have complained about unidentified foul odors that regularly surface inside the building. Some parents, retired teachers and community members blame chemicals previously identified on school grounds as a potential cause for their illnesses. As the environmental investigation continues, some parents are breathing a sign of relief.

“We are happy to know that the testing can be completed with the children and staff relocated to safe locations,” said Bethany Watts.