Blogs Drive the Media to Cover Environmental Justice

Is it just me, or are the blogs helping to drive the agenda when it comes to front-page news? A couple of months ago, we posted about the environmental justice movement in Rhode Island. Alex Moore has posted extensively about it at Rhode Island’s Future. Now it’s front-page news at the Projo. I guess this is what’s called being part of the wave of change. From the Projo’s environmental writer, Peter B. Lord:

New school on polluted site energizes environmental coalition

No matter which way you look from inside the city’s new Adelaide High School in the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood, the views aren’t good.

Out back, a tall chainlink fence encloses a huge pile of debris. Off to the side, several acres between the school and Mashapaug Pond are also fenced off and signs warn people to keep out.

The front of the school faces an empty Stop & Shop supermarket and parking lot. Inside the store, crews are drilling through the concrete floor so they can test for contaminants in the soils underneath.

Adelaide assistant principal John O. Craig, supervising students at the end of a recent school day, points to the ductwork designed to pull toxic gases from the soil and direct them away from classrooms. He thinks the school is safe, but barely adequate for his students.

“We’re doing the best we can with what we have,” says Craig. “But I’d just like to get a ball field and a running track for my students.”

The only other place in Rhode Island where a school has been built on contaminated land is just a short way up Route 10, also in Providence. The city built a middle school and an elementary school on a closed landfill off Springfield Street. The School Department continually vents harmful gases and fills places where soils and walks have caved in. [full text]

4 thoughts on “Blogs Drive the Media to Cover Environmental Justice

  1. I am unclear. What is “toxic” about the site, or area? I read a passing reference to “toxic slag” and find that confusing. Slag is usually the product of metal refining and almost always the resulting material is insoluable or vitrified and insoluable and other than being very ugly, is harmless. Venting for “toxic gas” is quite another thing, different from heavy metals. What is the source of this?

    One assumes that there was an acceptable environmental study completed before the site was opened for development. If not, someone’s head should be on the block for misinformation.

  2. Hi Donald,

    The Adelaide School in Providence was built on the former Gorham/Textron manufacturing site. The entire site encompasses 37 acres, but was carved up into 4 parcels (A, B, C, & D). The school is on Parcel B.

    The entire site is heavily contaminated with a number of toxins. It is polluted enough to be considered a superfund site by the EPA. Superfund sites are essentially the worst of the worst concerning levels of contamination.

    The city of Providence did the best they could to rush the job through and cut as many corners as possible. It took a lot of effort from the community to come as far as we have, including getting a fence put up around the pond and getting a contaminated slag pile removed.

    Unfortunately, the practice of building schools on contaminated land is pretty routine in many cash strapped municipalities in dire need of new schools. They are stuck with contaminated land developers won’t bother with and figure it’s a good cost saving measure to build schools there. Of course, they don’t consider long-term operation/maintenance costs or the potential health risks they will eventually have to deal with.

    If you have a lot of spare time on your hands, you can look over the history of the Gorham/Textron site on a special site set up by the DEM. Just click here.

  3. March 2008 I went to the Environmental Action 2008 Seminar at Wentworth, Mobilizing the Grassroots for a Greener New England and was blown away by the knowledge gained at this all day Seminar. This is where I became more connected with what the Envir. Justice does and knew that when I returned home I would seek out this and learn as much as I could.

    Recently I attended a Press Conference that Toxic Actions, Environmental Justice came and spoke about Brownfields. It’s a fact that areas that were formerly dumps or the like are cheaply purchased by any City/Town. is a perfect example to read of why I don’t want my kid having a runny nose or daily migraines. Today, 1 in 6 have developmental disorders, Asthma, ADHD, on an on. Why would I want to further burden their growing systems with PCB’s, toxic gases etc? Why?

    I commend these stewards of our environment, and depend on them to educate those that are too busy to advocate for themselves and their family.

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