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UPDATE: Carbon Monoxide Found After Cortland School Evacuated

UPDATE (01/16/14) -- The landfill that gassed out dozens of stateline elementary school children and staff says it'll pay up.
UPDATE (01/16/14) -- The landfill that gassed out dozens of stateline elementary school children and staff says it'll pay up.

According to the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, Waste Management will cover the costs of the medical bills of the nearly 70 people hospitalized tuesday.

They were sickened after a strong odor from the landfill drifted to the school thanks to strong winds, and workers digging in year-old trash.

No one was seriously injured.

Our calls to Waste Management Thursday were not returned.


CORTLAND – Waste Management claims responsibility of high winds blowing gaseous odors from the local landfill to Cortland elementary school.  But they say they are not responsible for the carbon monoxide detected in some of the patients. It was still breezy Wednesday afternoon at the DeKalb county landfill, but there was one noticeable difference: no nauseating odors. Lisa Disbrow is a spokesperson for the DeKalb Landfill. She says, “We are only completing this project during favorable conditions or when the school's not in session."

It was a different story Tuesday when several ambulances raced to Cortland elementary after dozens became sick.  Waste Management says a third party company was digging through year old trash Tuesday morning. That's when 40 mph wind gusts blew the newly exposed garbage smell towards Cortland Elementary. 71 students and faculty were taken to the hospital after inhaling the gas.  Dr. Michael Kulisz is Kishwaukee Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer and describes the scene: “The (patients’) symptoms were pretty much the same: it was headaches and nausea."

DeKalb County Board member Mark Pietrowski Jr. is investigating what happened, “Some parents it's just a matter of what kind of assurances can we be given by  local government and waste management that, you know, our kids are going to be safe."

Though they were all released on Tuesday, some of the patients' blood work came back with an unhealthy toxin in it.  Kulisz says, “It ndicates an exposure of carbon monoxide."

Kulisz can't pinpoint if it was caused by the landfill.  And waste management denies that they had anything to do with the elevated carbon monoxide levels. Disbrow explains, “Crews at the facility were actually wearing gas monitoring systems and the monitoring systems monitor for things like carbon monoxide.  And those monitors did not go off."

The landfill is undergoing a controversial expansion and waste management says this incident won't affect that.  The Illinois EPA is investigating.
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