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Speaker To Discuss "Unremediated Toxic Hazards" At Site Of Elmira High School

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On Thursday April 12, Walter Hang, founder of the Ithaca based organization Toxics Targeting will speak about what he calls the unremediated toxic hazards remaining at the property Elmira High School sits on. 

Hang, known for being an outspoken opponent to hydrofracking in the Southern Tier, will present what is described as "extensive" site contamination data, historic maps and other detailed information documenting widespread toxic pollution hazards that he says have never been investigated or cleaned up on a comprehensive basis.

After concerns about the number of cancer cases among former students was raised in the late 90’s and early 2000's, the New York State Department Of Environmental Conservation ( DEC ) and New York State Department of Health ( DOH ) began investigating. Soil samples were taken from the land, once the site of the Remington Rand plant which was in operation from the 1930's until 1972. In 1977, Remington Rand turned the property over to Southern Tier Economic Growth. In 1979 the property was sold to the Elmira City School District for $1 and Southside High School was built on the site. 

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Walter Hang


In 2015, both agencies declared that while contaminants were found in the soil, they posed no health risks. "The assessments found that school occupants were protected from potential exposure to elevated levels of chemicals related to historic use of the property because of the contemporary building or surface cover materials such as concrete slabs, pavement, imported soil and grass," the report said. The Elmira City School District also released information for concerned parents.

In early 2017 public meeting was held but the DOH and DEC to advise they would pursue remediation of the property in conjunction with Unysis, the corporate successor to Remington Rand.  As part of the cleanup, 6500 tons of soil contaminated with PCB's and other chemicals were removed from the site. Additionally, indoor air quality tests continue to be performed regularly as a precaution after TCE  ( a toxic industrial solvent ) fumes were detected at the state safety threshold prior to the installment of a special ventilation system below the building in 2014. 
The cleanup was slated to be done by the end of 2017. 

In an article released March 1, 2018, Elmira City School District once again assured the public that students were in no harm. “The building is safe for people to be in," she said. "I want people to know that.”

For those wishing to attend, the presentation is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Holiday Inn Riverview on Water St. in Elmira from 6-8 pm.

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