ST. LOUIS – It’s a sunny day at Dunbar Elementary in East Saint Louis. However, on this same afternoon, some adult family members are learning about a sort of shadow, a risk, that hangs over the school and its students.
For example, there’s Nancy Shireman, godmother.
KSDK: “Does it worry you, the possibility of…”
Shireman: “These babies being close to it? Yeah!”
Shireman is talking about not one, but two chemical plants less than a mile from the school that use sizable amounts of chlorine in their manufacturing.
In addition, not far away is a facility that uses hydrofluoric acid. Finally, seven miles south, is yet another plant that also handles chlorine.
All of the chemicals used are considered toxic and high-risk, and in the case of a major leak could potentially mean disaster.
Shireman had noticed some of the plants previously with some concern, but didn’t know what they were handling.
“When they knocked the school down, they should have never put the school back up,” Shireman, referring to the school’s remodeling, said. “Not right here in this area by the chemical plant? By the railroad track? They never should have done it.”
“We’re concerned about these chemical plants all across the country” Abe Scarr said.
Scarr is the Director of the Illinois Public Interest group (PIRG), a non-profit that works in the public interest.
He says that many chemical plants in the U.S. are often situated near low-income communities, putting them at immediate risk if a large leak or spill occurs.
… On the other side of Dunbar Elementary, and the community it serves, is the Solvay Fluorides plant which uses hydrofluoric acid. ..