New details regarding pollutants underneath Elmira High School are now public.
The information, revealed by a toxicity-data collector, shows just what is underneath the school and how large of an area it is.
The data collected is from local and state governments. He’s asking both the school district and New York State to take action.
“The State of New York has required this site to be investigated for decades,” Walter Hang, the president of Toxics Targeting, a toxicity-date collecting company, said.
Elmira High School sits on what was the former Sperry Remington facility. It was a company that produced electrical and computer components, and used various chemicals and metals in the process.
“The problem is the site hasn’t been cleaned up,” Hang said. “So it’s been literally decades and the regulatory exceedance in soil, in groundwater, are irrefutable.”
Scattered underneath the tennis courts, the football field and the baseball fields, Hang said he was able to determine what contaminants were under the ground. He determined it through state data, just how much.
“They’ve been recently covering up those areas,” Hang said. “Students from years ago might have walked right through those contaminated areas and got exposed through the toxins.”
Some of those toxins include polychlorinated biphenyl and benzoflouranthene, blended in with the soil.
“You can become exposed to these toxic chemicals and then they can become absorbed into the body,” Hang said. “However, there is extensive contamination that can be breathed. It’s under the ground and it’s trying to come out of the ground.”
In a statement, the Elmira City School District said it’s never worked with Hang, but is working with another company as well as the New York State Department of Environmental to clean up the soil.
It also said, “he combined expertise on the team has provided extensive oversight and cooperation among all parties has been great. There is a lot of planning, monitoring, and coordination that goes along with remediation work and we take our lead from the experts.”
It added, “Our capital projects have been accommodated by all involved parties and remediation work has been done accordingly, including the most recent parking lot replacement in the front of the building and tennis court projects.”
The DEC said it will hold a public meeting at the Holiday Inn Elmira- Riverview to discuss cleanup at the high school. The meeting is this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.