Outside Groups Urge More Testing at Le Roy High School

1:46 PM, Feb 23, 2012   |    comments
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By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

A trio of environmental and health groups has asked local, state and federal agencies to undertake a broad environmental investigation around the Le Roy high school where students are suffering from unusual neurological symptoms.

In a news release issued this afternoon, the groups said more soil, groundwater and air testing is needed at the school property to determine whether contaminants played any role in the outbreak, which has affected as many as 15 junior and senior high school students.

Parents of two of the afflicted students joined in the call for the New York state health, environmental and education agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Le Roy Central School District to arrange for the testing.

"We are overwhelmed by the complex problems now facing too many families and their affected children. We hope that full, appropriate, and speedy investigations will help prevent more illnesses," said the Le Roy parents, Jim Dupont and Beth Miller, in a written statement.

There was no immediate comment from the agencies.

The request for an investigation was made by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice and the Healthy Schools Network, both based in the Washington, D.C., area, and the locally based Empire State Consumer Project. They noted the presence of five natural gas wells around the school, three locations in the town where toxic chemicals were released in the past, and cited rampant rumors that rock or soil from one of the sites was used on school property.

The district commissioned some basic indoor air tests in December that came back negative, and officials have said they believe the school is safe and had no role in the outbreak of illness. The district has engaged an outside consultant to determine whether the earlier tests were sufficient.

The students exhibit tics, twitches and verbal outbursts. Buffalo neurologists who have treated a number of the students have said they're suffering from a group psychological problem that manifests itself with physical symptoms.

Some parents have said they believe environmental factors should be ruled out.

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By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

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