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1-in-4 IA Kids at Schools Near High-Risk Chemical Facilities

PHOTO: A new analysis finds that 28 percent of Iowa's public school students attend classes within one mile of a so-called high-risk chemical facility. That's the second highest rate in the country. Image courtesy Center for Effective Government.
PHOTO: A new analysis finds that 28 percent of Iowa's public school students attend classes within one mile of a so-called high-risk chemical facility. That's the second highest rate in the country. Image courtesy Center for Effective Government.
April 29, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - It's a dubious distinction for Iowa: The state has the nation's second-highest percentage of children attending school near a so-called high-risk chemical facility, according to a new report. The analysis comes from the Center for Effective Government. Sean Moulton, the Center's director of open government policy, said the advocacy group found that more than one in four students in the state is affected.

"So Iowa in total had 472 schools within a mile of these facilities, with a total student body population at those schools of 134,000. That represents 28 percent of all the students going to public schools in Iowa," Moulton said.

An interactive map
showing which Iowa schools are located near chemical facilities can be found on the Center for Effective Government website.

Ensuring that students near these facilities are safe requires stronger disclosure rules and greater oversight, as well as better emergency response plans, Moulton added.

"Students do fire drills every day, but I don't think many of these schools have ever really talked about what their plan would be if one of these facilities had a major accident while school was in session," he said.

It was one year ago this month that an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, left 15 dead, hundreds injured and several schools damaged or destroyed.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA