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Environmental concerns prompt relocation of Paden City students

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Environmental concerns prompt relocation of Paden City students

Jun 12, 2024 | 3:54 pm ET
By Lori Kersey
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Environmental concerns prompt relocation of Paden City students
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Wetzel County Superintendent Cassandra Porter said that due to health concerns about Paden City High School being located on top of an Environmental Protection Agency designated Superfund site, students will have to attend other schools in the county for the upcoming school year. (Lexi Browning | West Virginia Watch)

Students at a Wetzel County school will be relocated for the upcoming academic year because of environmental concerns with the school’s location. 

In a letter to faculty and staff Wednesday, Wetzel County Superintendent Cassandra Porter wrote that due to health concerns about Paden City High School being located on top of an Environmental Protection Agency designated Superfund site, the school’s seventh and eighth graders will attend class at New Martinsville School, while ninth through 12th grade students will relocate to Magnolia High School.

“A safe learning environment for our students is fundamental and imperative,” Porter wrote to staff and faculty. “Fortunately, in Wetzel County, we can prioritize student safety without interrupting the instructional process during this temporary school closure. As county superintendent, I am charged with and given the authority to protect the health, safety and welfare of our students and employees. 

“Having an environmental hazard like an EPA Superfund site underneath PCHS leaves little room for error or half-measures,” Porter said. “Decisive action is needed.”

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the site, located in the 200 block of North Fourth Avenue, has soil and groundwater plumes contaminated with tetrachloroethylene, a likely carcinogen used for dry cleaning fabrics. 

An EPA site inspection that began in 2020 determined that the site poses a risk and would require long-term clean up. It was added to the National Priorities List in March 2022.

Public health concerns associated with the water prompted the former Department of Health and Human Resources to issue a  “do-no-consume” order for Paden City residents for nearly a month last summer

According to the EPA, exposure to the chemical can cause adverse effects in the kidney, liver, immune system and hematologic system, and on development and reproduction. Studies of people exposed to the chemical in the workplace have found links to cancer, including bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.