The Burlington (Vt.) School District is suing agrochemical company Monsanto over the use of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the construction of the former Burlington High School building.
The Burlington Free Press reports that the cost of tearing down the existing structure and building a new one is estimated at more than $190 million.
The federal suit contends that PCB contamination led to the closure of the high school in 2020 after air testing found PCB levels that exceeded health and safety standards.
The discovery prompted the district to shut down the high school building and move students and staff to a former Macy's department store site. Earlier this year, Burlington voters overwhelmingly approved a $165 million bond issue to construct a replacement high school.
Monsanto parent company Bayer AG issued the following statement about the lawsuit:
“This lawsuit has no merit but hopefully it will shed light on the role of the state of Vermont, the Burlington School District and the manufacturers of the building products at issue in creating the perfect storm that resulted in unwarranted actions to abandon the school, move students to a converted Macy’s, cancel renovation plans and spend $165 million, more than twice the renovation cost, to build a new high school – actions that could have been avoided.”
WPTZ-TV reports that a group of former Burlington High School teachers also have sued Monstanto for the PCB contamination.
Officials hope to begin demolition of the existing school early next year. The plan is to have the new school ready for students in 2025.