LOOKING TO A HEARING
“Tony Christini awaits Judge Susan Tucker’s arrival, while petitioners against the school on the Mileground Road sit in the audience.” -Ron Rittenhouse, Dominion Post
Factual Background I – Health and Safety Violations
The overwhelming evidence points to the conclusion that the intended WV 705 / US 119 intersection, as site for Monongalia County Board of Education’s (BOE) new consolidated “green” school, would violate state health, safety, and welfare (well-being) laws because the site is insolubly polluted by vehicle exhaust, given its proximity to high traffic congested highways. Nearly all of the 8.85 acre site to be purchased for the school (about 8 of 9 acres) is situated within 200 meters of any one, two, or three major pollution sources: the two high-traffic congested highways and their intersection. An influential, substantial, and growing body of scientific studies shows that high-traffic roads create vehicle exhaust pollution belts extending up to 300 meters or even farther (up to 450 meters) from the roadway, which cause elevated levels of serious (and potentially fatal) illnesses (including asthma, flu, bronchitis, leukemia, etc) in children residing in houses or attending schools situated up to 200 meters (or somewhat farther) from such highways. Most of the relevant studies have been conducted within the past 10 or 15 years, and on the basis of these studies, the state of California limits and bans new schools from being built within 150 meters of high traffic roads (let alone intersections which generate even more vehicle exhaust pollution than the roadways). Scientists have suggested that the school ban be considered for extension to at least 200 meters from high traffic roads (let alone from simultaneously 2 such highways plus their congested intersection). All or nearly all of the school building will be situated within 200 meters of any one, two, or three major pollution sources: the two high-traffic, congested highways and their intersection. It is likely that part of the consolidated school building, perhaps much of it, will be situated within 150 meters of the intersection of the two high-traffic congested highways or their intersection when both highways are expanded to four or five lanes and their intersection is expanded and moved directly toward the school building at the time of (or one year after) the fall 2012 scheduled opening of the consolidated school. The current schematic design drawings place the most scientifically vulnerable children (the youngest, pre-K and K) the closest to the intersection and busy roads. (Also of note, the county BOE contracted for “schematic design” work done without having title to the land for the school, which violates the BOE’s multimillion dollar contract with the School Building Authority, SBA, which explicitly bars it.)
Building and operating a new school within 200 meters of high-traffic and congestion would not be a minor or one-time violation of law but a grave and enduring breach. The vehicle-exhaust polluted, high-traffic, congested, accident-prone 705/119 intersection site threatens violation of the “health of pupils” law (§18-5-9) pertaining to the county BOE, and the “physical welfare of pupils” law (§18-2-5) pertaining to the state BOE, and the “student health and safety” law (§18-9D-16) pertaining to the state SBA. In face of all these laws, Superintendent Devono located and recommended the dire unhealthy and otherwise dangerous site for the county and state agencies to approve. And he did so in face of the student “health, safety and welfare” laws pertaining to himself (§18-4-10 and §18-4-11). And all these agencies and officials are ignoring various human and civil rights stated in the Constitution of West Virginia (various Sections in Articles II, III, and XII).
The vehicle exhaust (and noise) pollution will worsen year-by-year given that state highway officials (WV DOH) and their consultants (ENTRAN) note that the impending road expansion and intersection shift cannot eliminate congestion and that the volume of traffic is projected to increase substantially on both highways and at the school site intersection over the next two decades, including a projection of an increase from 23,000 vehicles per day on WV 705 in 2008 to 32,000 vehicles per day in 2030 the would-be 18th year of the consolidated school. Vehicle exhaust pollution will be further worsened by the impending construction of the 705/119 four-lane roundabout intersection within 150 meters of the intended school building. So it is that subsequent to the opening of the consolidated school, rates and risk of illness may be predicted to markedly increase in quantity, and occurrence of disease may be predicted to be more severe qualitatively: for example, more students may be predicted to contract asthma, and harsher asthma attacks may be predicted for those who have it. The consolidated school’s student body may be predicted to suffer increased rates of flu or even increased risk of childhood leukemia, both potentially fatal, along with increased rates of other illness or disease – especially those ear, nose, throat, lung, and heart related.