Because of Rhode Island’s industrial history (we invented industrial industry, after all) we’ve inherited a wealth of old mill and factory sites that are loaded with toxins and contaminants. Such land is very difficult to develop or sell, because the cost of cleaning up these sites can be extraordinary.
One solution to this problem is to pretend the contaminants don’t exist, and then erect schools on or near the site of the extinct factories. The land is cheap and no one would want to build their home or business there, so it makes perfect sense to turn the places into schools, right?
And if people are still worried about contaminants and toxins, we can install elaborate chemical detection systems that might not actually do anything, but will mollify the parents. These chemical detection systems are expensive to install and tricky to maintain, which eats up a lot of the money saved in placing schools on such land in the first place, but what the heck, it’s only our children and those valueless public servants we call “teachers” who are put at risk. No big deal.
I covered this issue back in May when the Environmental Justice League of RI brought Lois Gibbs, renowned toxics activist from Love Canal, to speak out against weakening a recently passed bill that protects schools from being built on toxic sights. Now a great video from PressPassTV talks about this problem and highlights the actions of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island to combat it. Check it out: