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Soil samples at former Macy’s contain dry-cleaning chemicals

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 2:51 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Sampling conducted at the former Macy’s in Burlington shows the soil does contain potentially harmful chemicals inked to a former dry-cleaner in the area, but officials say it doesn’t mean the building is unsafe.

The former department store is under consideration to relocate Burlington High School students in February after the high school building was deemed unsafe because of PCBs this fall. Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation officials say they found chlorinated solvents in the soil from the former business. Perchloroethylene, also known perc, has been found at numerous other sites around the state and has been linked to cancer.

Friday, the DEC will test the air quality at the site. Officials say the results of those tests will determine if the former Macy’s is fit to house students. They say a vapor barrier was installed when the building was constructed, which is meant to prevent soil gas from migrating into the indoor air. These tests will also tell if it’s working.

The Burlington School District has agreed to a tentative lease depending on the outcome of the tests. Officials have said it’s not an ideal learning space and will cost taxpayers at least an extra $10 million, but board members hope the community will embrace the new location.

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