Long Island school being shuttered, students relocated after potentially dangerous chemicals found in septic systems, cesspool

Adam Warner
January 19, 2020 - 5:36 pm
Northport Middle School

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NORTHPORT, N.Y. (1010 WINS) – A Long Island middle school is being shut down after potentially dangerous chemicals, including mercury and benzene, were found in septic systems and a cesspool outside the school.

About 600 students will be relocated from Northport Middle School, which will be shut down this week and remain closed for the rest of the school year.

The students will be off school as the district finalizes logistics for their relocation.

Newsday reports that the school is closing following an environmental investigation that found potentially dangerous chemicals in septic systems and a cesspool near the building.

The Northport-East Northport district superintendent, Robert Banzer, sent an email to parents altering them to the situation.

There will be no school for students Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, with some 660 students being transferred to other schools after that.

The school has reportedly had complaints for some time about a putrid smell that has nauseated students, teachers and staff. In some cases, it has even caused illnesses, including allegations of headaches, lung infections and nosebleeds. Students even staged a sickout last month, calling for an independent environmental investigation.

Earlier this month, Newsday reported that the district’s environmental firm, PW Grosser Consulting Inc., detected elevated levels of mercury vapor in a cesspool outside the building.  Elevated levels of benzene were also discovered in the soil from a couple of septic systems.

1010 WINS spoke with state Sen. James Gaughran of Northport, whose children attended the school. He said after years of complaints, he wants to make sure everything’s done right.

“My main concern now is to make sure that we have full transparency. I’ve asked the Department of Environmental Conservation to step in and do a full review,” Gaughran said.

Gaughran wants the state to conduct an investigation for transparency but also to help the school district with relocation.

“As a state senator I’m going to try to do what I can find some additional funding, whether it’s in the upcoming budget or some emergency funding that may be available to help deal with what is going to be a major transformation of the district,” he said.