As a member of Silent Disaster investigating increasing childhood cancers — red flags went up from the article on the new Altama Elementary School construction site. Concern for the school location, adjacent to a Hercules Superfund site, is not without cause.
The Waycross area childhood cluster serves as a cautionary example — 30-plus cases since 2010 — one focus, Ruskin Elementary, has a staggering number of sicknesses. Six children with cancer — associated by direct attendance or their mom being a teacher there during the pregnancy. Additionally, three teachers passed away with cancer and others had multiple miscarriages. Ruskin sits west of two Superfund sites — the closest, a CSX railyard, and Atlanta Gas Light. Residential community testing around Ruskin found elevated levels of chemicals and radiation often never tested or reported by the Superfund site cleanups.
Three reasons a school near Hercules is bad: 1. Young children and teachers (often in childbearing years) — are more vulnerable to toxins at levels undetectable by current testing methods — they are high risk for miscarriages, deformities, and cancer.
2. Testing chemicals known at Superfund sites is not adequate — toxins go unreported or decay toxins are often not tested by the Superfund sites.
3. If the school board feels the need to have monitoring wells and vapor intrusion barriers just in case, as reported, then the school is way too close.
Why risk the lives of precious little children?