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Mystery Stink Forces Students To Relocate

Rockland Elementary Students Taking Classes At High School
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A Human Nose - File / Photo: AP

A Human Nose – File / Photo: AP

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NEW CITY, N.Y. (WCBS 880/1010 WINS/CBS 2) - It’s perplexing. Air samples have come back clean from Laurel Plains Elementary School, but students and teachers continue to complain about a sewer-like odor that causes light-headedness, nausea, and a metallic taste.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports | 1010 WINs’ Terry Sheridan reports

So, the school will remain closed, so the soil and water can be sampled and more air testing can be done.

PTA co-president Lisa Backelman approves of the response, saying to WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams, “They have more than one environmental company coming in to assess it and it seems that they are exploring the measure of the tests that they can at this point.”

“Smelled like some kind of poop,” student Nancy Lee told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

“I was with a retired fireman. He thought it was a burning smell and I thought it was a sewer smell,” parent Ellen Brown added.

A skeleton crew supervised a clean-up Tuesday even though they weren’t sure where to clean first. The school was closed briefly last week and given a clean bill of health. Now it’s closed again and students are being bussed to nearby Clarkstown South High School. The whole thing is unsettling.

“They were in there for a week so I don’t know what long-term effects there could be from it,” parent Claire Caglione said.

Young spoke with the industrial hygienist hired by the school district to test Laurel Plains and he said more sophisticated tests will begin Wednesday and Thursday. There will be eight-hour sweeps both with the windows closed and heating system on and with the windows open in case the smell is coming form outside. The hygienist conceded, however, that finding a cause could be like looking for a needle in a haystack. The district would not let him appear on camera.

Parents are being told their little ones will be going to classes at the high school for the time being, which seemed to please one father and son.

“Hands down a good job by the administration, the school board and the administration of the school,” Dan Moscatto said.

It will be next week before the new test results start coming in.

Laurel Plains Elementary School underwent asbestos abatement several years ago. Every one of its 40 classrooms has a separate ventilation system.

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