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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Public School Closed by Factory’s Pollution

CINCINNATI (CN) - An elementary school has been shut for 4 years because of carcinogenic fumes from a nearby plastics plant, and the lost classroom space is crowding other schools. The Three Rivers Board of Education says Ineos ABS and Lanxess Corp. polluted the air at Meredith Hitchens Elementary School so badly the Ohio EPA told the superintendent that rooftop monitors "revealed that two chemicals from the plastics plant across the street were drifting over the school at levels that made the risk of cancer 50 times higher than what the state considers acceptable."

Three Rivers says the situation is especially alarming because children are "especially susceptible to toxic chemicals. Long exposure to some chemicals can exacerbate asthma, trigger learning disabilities or lead to cancer years later."

The polluting plant makes plastic pellets, plastics and resins using acrylonitrile, 1,3 butadiene and styrene. Pollution from it caused "elevated ambient air concentrations of HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) beyond the fence line of the Addystone Facility's property" according to the complaint.

Meredith Hitchens Elementary School has been vacant since December 2005.

Data collected from rooftop monitors in 2006 showed emissions still "far exceeded the Ohio EPA's acceptable levels for both 1,3 butadiene and acrylonitrile."

The Board of Education says the Ohio EPA has yet to inform it that the school is "now, or will in the future, be safe and acceptable" for children.

The closure has caused overcrowding in other schools and any available space, including custodians' closets, has been turned into classrooms.

Three Rivers seeks punitive damages for negligence, liability and trespass. It is represented in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas by Stanley Chesley with Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley.

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