MARION, Ohio (AP) --
An Ohio State University professor said scientists are unable
to determine whether exposure to pollutants at the River
Valley school complex near Marion caused a high incidence of
leukemia cases in the area.
``We don't know and we can't definitively rule
out whether any of those exposures might have in some way
contributed to the development,'' said Deborah L. Gray, a
clinical associate professor at Ohio State's School of Public
River Valley's middle school and high school were built in
1962 on 78 acres where the military used to burn or bury tons
of highly toxic chemicals.
A federal and state investigation of the schools began in
1997 because of concerns about an unusually high number of
graduates with leukemia. Leukemia has not been linked to
chemical contamination found at the school site.
The school district plans to build new schools away from
the current middle and high school. The school board is
expected to select three sites later this month from six now
The scheduled date of completion for two new elementary
schools and a new middle and high school complex is August
2003. Gray said that until then, the middle and high schools
will be closely monitored to ensure the health of students.
``Our response is 'Yes, it's safe to have school as long as
we manage exposures,''' she said. ``And that means restricting
access to areas that we know are contaminated. ... That means
continuing to monitor what is in the air.''
Gray studied the River Valley site when she worked as a
toxicologist for Metcalf & Eddy, an engineering firm hired
by the school district.
She said contamination at the site was not fully documented
until 1998, adding, ``There may be people ... who have yet to
manifest some sort of disease'' because of their exposure to
chemicals at the site.
Mike Griffith, who removed his son from the River Valley
schools about a year into the state's environmental
investigation, said he was concerned by Gray's remarks on
``Officials have never gone there. The Ohio EPA has said,
'We will never know.' How are you erring on the side of safety
when you keep schoolchildren in that situation?'' he said.