Buhler Residents Still Concerned About Possible Health Hazard In Town

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Buhler community members who turned out at the grade school Thursday night looking for answers from an environmental study, say they actually walked away with more concerns.

Multiple teachers, staff members and former students have died in the past several years in Buhler, all of cancer or similar life-threatening diseases.

Trying to find a common denominator, the community feared the source was coming from the elementary school.

A recent environmental test conducted inside the school, reveals it is safe from any airborne contaminants.

"We're just so glad we have a healthy school where they can go on and learn and play," said Dan Stiffler, USD 313.

The results presented to the community, have some baffled.

Kevin Bengston lost his wife, Kim, to Lou Gehrig's disease in December.

Kim was a para-educator in the school for years.

"We all knew when she was working here that there was upwards of 10 people, women, who have all died within the last couple years," said Bengston.

The one area of the school that did not come back okay, was the basement, also used as a tornado shelter.

Nearly twice the safe level of radon gas was detected there, in an area school officials say is not used.

"It is unoccupied space. It's not some place where we have any staff or children," said Stiffler.

Those with loved ones who have recently passed away, say most individuals who have become sick, have worked in that part of the building.

Although tests are being done in the basement and on the school's water, the community says there are still too many unanswered questions.

"What is the common denominator? Plain and simple. What is it? Is it the building, is it the soil, is it the air? I don't know. Where do you turn from here? I don't know, but I'm ready to start delving into it," said Susie Gehring, who lost husband to cancer in 2009.

The radon test is in place, and will provide results in about 90 days, as for the water sample the city took at the school, they will not have results for another ten days.

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