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Kevin VeseyJul 5, 2017, 11:15 pmJul 6, 2017, 8:28 am

District addresses concerns over toxins at school in North Bellport

Teachers union requests environmental testing after 32 school workers were diagnosed with cancer


Anger and frustration boiled over at the South Country Board of Education meeting on Wednesday night as an environmental expert hired by the district presented the findings of a recent air quality test at Frank P. Long Intermediate School in North Bellport where the dangerous chemical 1,2-dichloropropane was found in higher than normal amounts.

Only school board members were permitted to ask the expert questions while parents shouted from the audience demanding the school be shut down.

The testing happened at the request of the teachers' union after 32 people working at the school came down with cancer over the years. Eleven of them died.

Recently retired teacher Theresa Palermo was diagnosed with lung cancer 12 years ago, even though she never smoked.

“Lost my left lung to the cancer and doctors all felt it was environmental,” Palermo said.

Several other dangerous compounds were also found at the school but in amounts that are deemed acceptable.

“We've been exposed to these low levels for a long period of time, and we've done our research. There are studies that show that that has adverse side effects to people's health,” said teacher Trish Gallina,

“The board of education and the superintendent stand united in protecting every child in this district, and we're going to work together to find a solution,” said South Country Board of Education President Cheryl Felice,

The building sits right next to the Town of Brookhaven landfill, which the district's environmental expert says could be the source of some of the dangerous chemicals.

The district says 1,2-dichloropropane is linked to a pesticide that was used decades ago.

At this point, the school board had yet to decide if they will order more environmental testing. But parents and teachers say they've already seen enough and want the school to be closed.

The board will meet again on July 26.

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