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Presentation addresses toxic hazards at Elmira High School


ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Toxics Targeting President, Walter Hang, says for more than twenty-five years of soil contamination, something needs to be done to remediate the toxic hazards at Elmira High School.

"Unfortunately, when they built the school, no one understood how dangerous it can be to put children in a school on top of an unremediated industrial site," said Hang.

Hang held a presentation at Elmira Holiday Inn Thursday night to show people evidence they believe of unremediated toxic hazards at Elmira High School.

Hang claims to have found numerous toxic hazards on the property, including Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB's), heavy metals, toxic solvents, Barium, Lead, and Chrome.

"Children can breathe the contamination, they can actually come into contact with the contamination," said Hang. "This site has to be comprehensibly investigated and remediated without any further delay."

Even though the school has undergone remediation in the past, Hang says the property is still heavily contaminated.

"There's a parking lot immediately south of the main school that's known to be contaminated," said Hang. "It hasn't been cleaned up. A portion of the track is known to be contaminated, it's never been cleaned up. There's areas all over this school property that have been identified but they haven't been cleaned up on a comprehensive basis."

According to Hang, it's important to clean the contamination as soon as possible to protect the students.

"This entire site has to be remediated because the children are so young, if they get exposed to these toxics, it's in their bodies for the rest of their lives," said Hang. "So these are the must vulnerable populations. They have to be protected."

As for the residents at the meeting, they're calling for action.

"This is our community school," said Elmira resident, Christina Sonsire. "So many of the students there, it's not like they have a choice as to where they're going to go. So this piecemeal approach of just doing a little bit, taking a lot of time, as Walter has described, and, frankly, the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) itself is saying that approach is not sustainable because as certain part are remediated, now you have a gap in time. That exposes other places to the toxicities."

The state DEC announced yesterday they'll be holding a meeting on May second to discuss ongoing remediation efforts at the school.