Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Danger Below? MN Schools Weigh Land Risks

September 20, 2010 - The Stillwater school district had the perfect site for its new Early Childhood Family Center — centrally located in the district and a bargain at $3.2 million, including a building worth $900,000 for free.

Just one problem: An environmental study found toxic contamination on the site. School district officials terminated the deal last month.

Just miles away in Baytown Township, St. Croix Preparatory Academy built a $21 million school in an area known to have water contaminated with trichloroethylene. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the site meets all environmental safety guidelines, but critics have argued for more than two years that students and staff might not be safe down the road as more is known and environmental standards change.

The two decisions highlight a growing debate: When is it appropriate to construct a school building on or near a contaminated site, and how do you handle the real or perceived threats?


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