WS/FC Schools: Testing On Air Quality Recommended At Hanes, Lowrance

WS/FC Schools: Testing On Air Quality Recommended At Hanes, Lowrance

5:38pm Jan 27, 2015
Hanes Magnet School in Winston-Salem
Paul Garber


UPDATE 1/28/15 8:31

The superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools is recommending immediate testing of the air at Lowrance and Hanes Middle School. The Winston-Salem Journal reports she made her remarks at the Forsyth County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night. Beverly Emory told the board that she is looking for a new consultant to do the testing that is not associated with previous tests, the school or Kaba Ilco, the company that sits on the former manufacturing site and is in charge of clean-up.


The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district is holding a meeting Wednesday for parents concerned over contaminated grounds at two of the city’s middle schools. Lowrance and Hanes middle schools sit atop one of the most hazardous waste sites in the state. Teachers, staff and parents have been wondering about the impact, especially because the county is considering building a new facility to replace the schools in the same spot. 

Theo Helm with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools says he wants parents to know that it’s a safe place to send their children.

"We would not have our students or our staff in a place that we thought was unsafe. This is not just us saying it. We have tests and data to show it," says Helm.

The site is above an underground plume of toxic waste which contains at least one chemical known to cause cancer and another linked to it.  The Winston-Salem Journal reports that testing on the site has occurred six times over the school's 63-year history, most recently in 2014. The drinking water is considered safe as the school gets its water from the city.

But the question has been in the vapor released from the chemicals and whether that could impact the air quality.

Helm says parents have been informed of the issue in the past, and that the only reason this comes up now is that there is a proposal to build a replacement school on an unused part of the campus. But he says he hopes the meeting Wednesday will address parental concerns. 

"It's something that we've talked about at board committee meetings. We've never tried to hide it," says Helm. "We've monitored the air. We've always felt like it's safe. Certainly, we're meeting with parents and we'll explain all that and explain what steps we'll take moving forward." 

School officials are requesting $41.6 million that would include replacing Lowrance. County commissioners will discuss the project over the next several weeks.  

The 6 p.m. meeting is open to the public at the Hanes and Lowrance schools.  

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