No answers were forthcoming and no further light was shed on the mystery of the Sibilly School water contamination Wednesday night at a meeting of the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee.
The school's drinking water has been under investigation since late August when volatile organic chemicals were found in the water. The school's cistern was drained at that time and students and staff were tested for any effects of the contamination.
Results of these tests have, so far, shown no damage, but they are not conclusive. This is only one of the concerns of the citizens and parents who attended the meeting.
Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds was grilled by Committee Chair Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, as well as Sens. Lorraine Berry, Donald "Ducks" Cole and Almando "Rocky" Liburd.
Also testifying were representatives from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Planning and Natural Resources Department. Dean Plaskett, DPNR commissioner, couldn't attend as he had another meeting in St. Croix.
Berry asked Simmonds for the receipts from the water hauling companies supplying the school. Simmonds said the paperwork in duplicating the receipts was overwhelming and her department didn't have enough paper.
Ann Arnold, chair of the Concerned Citizens of Sibilly, expressed frustration and disgust with the way the children and parents have been treated by the department and by EPA officials. They don't get straight answers, she said.
PTA President Vinnie Mohanini said what they want is a "solid, concrete explanation of how the chemicals got in the water."
Berry, who wrote to Donastorg requesting the Tuesday meeting, expressed disappointment on the lack of answers offered for the contamination. "It sounds like no one completed documentation on work orders for water deliveries to the school."
Berry specifically asked Simmonds about the individual water haulers' receipts.
Hollis Griffin of DPNR said the department had looked into whether the contamination could have any connection with the Tutu Aquifer, which has been determined to contain harmful chemicals. He said there appears to be no connection, but added that his department doesn't have sophisticated- enough resources to know for sure.
Jim Casey, EPA coordinator for the Virgin Islands, complained that the Education Department failed to hand over documentation in a timely manner. He said he would like to see contracts with the water suppliers.
Donastorg appeared extremely dissatisfied with the results of the meeting.
"We need to narrow down the sources of the water," he said.
He has asked representatives of an independent testing lab in Louisiana to attend an investigative hearing set for January, he said.


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