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Richmond IndyMedia Live! Every Tuesday, 12:30 - 1PM on 97.3 WRIR LP-FM, and streaming online from wrir.org!

LOCAL News :: Civil & Human Rights : Education : Environment : Race & Ethnicity

A.V. Norrell Elemetary Flooded with Toxic Sewage: Is the building safe for our children?

With Northside students set to return to class after summer break, the recent bout of rain has flooded the grounds of A.V. Norrell Elementary School on Fendall Ave in Battery Park. The school, originally built on top of a refuse landfill in 1965, is also suffering from a ruptured sewage line that was damaged during tropical depression Gaston two years ago. This problem was not fixed, however, because the sewer pipes are inaccessible beneath a layer of toxic trash remains that lies underneath a recently built golf course next to the school. The combination of recent heavy rains and contaminated soil has created a noxious smell and a possibly unsafe environment for children.
The following is a press release issued by Art Burton's campaign for 6th District School Board
-----------------------------

A.V. Norrell Elemetary Flooded with Toxic Sewage
Is the building safe for our children?
Public Meeting Tuesday, 7pm at the Richmond Police Academy


With Northside students set to return to class after summer break, the recent bout of
rain has flooded the grounds of A.V. Norrell Elementary School on Fendall Ave in Battery
Park. The school, originally built on top of a refuse landfill in 1965, is also
suffering from a ruptured sewage line that was damaged during tropical depression Gaston
two years ago. This problem was not fixed, however, because the sewer pipes are
inaccessible beneath a layer of toxic trash remains that lies underneath a recently built
golf course next to the school. The combination of recent heavy rains and contaminated
soil has created a noxious smell and a possibly unsafe environment for children.

Prior to the flooding in Battery Park, the Center for Disease Control had initiated an
investigation of the concerns surrounding A.V. Norrell Elementary and the potential
dangers associated with children going to schools built on landfills. The CDC had
instructed the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry to begin a public health
assessment of the school and the surrounding community.

The school, where over 300 1st-5th grade students attend class, has long been the subject
of debate due to the high incidence of sickness among the pupils. In 2002, a Richmond
Public Schools environmental site assessment found low levels of methane gas in the A.V.
Norrell and (and Whitcomb Elementary, also built atop a landfill). Community activists
called for the closing of A.V. Norrell alleging environmental racism because the schools
in question are primarily attended by black children. Nonetheless, the schools have
remained open. In recent years, Mayor Doug Wilder has called for the closing of these
schools and others in his City of the Future plan.

Upon the discovery of the current problem on Monday, September 4th, City Councilman for
the 3rd District, Chris Hilbert, called a 7pm 9/5 public meeting at the Richmond Police
Academy (1202 W. Graham Rd, off of Brook Road). Art Burton, a 6th District candidate for
School Board and one of the originator's of the campaign against environmental racism in
Richmond's school system, will be on hand to address the CDC involvement and says, "The
environmental safety of A.V. Norrell Elementary School has long been a concern of the 6th
District community. The breaking of the sewage line and the inability of the City to
repair it, because of problems associated with the landfill are just a current example of
the long-standing unsafe conditions that have existed for the children in our community."


Call Art Burton at 467-6408 or by email at arthurlewis (at) comcast.net
for comments and details.
 
 


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