‘Dust Bowl’ Created by NGA Project Demolition Blamed for Sickening Kids, Teachers

By on May 14, 2018

From St. Louis Public Radio:  Isaiah Carson was happy and healthy on an early April afternoon as he worked on spelling with his dad at the family’s kitchen table.

That wasn’t the case a few months earlier when he started having trouble breathing. He was wheezing and had a shallow cough.

Isaiah, who’s 5, would lie in bed with his parents at night, unable to sleep. His father, Michael Carson, felt helpless. “He scared me to death,” Carson said.

Isaiah’s doctor diagnosed him with an upper respiratory infection and prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication. He missed a week of kindergarten at Gateway Elementary School. His parents blame the illness on all the dust from work on the site of the former Pruitt-Igoe housing development right next to the school.

Last fall, trees and brush growing on the site after four decades of vacancy were torn out. They were soon replaced with debris piles brought by a demolition company working under contract with St. Louis Development Corporation from the site of the planned National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency West headquarters right across Cass Avenue.

The demolition company, Kolb Grading, struck a deal with Paul McKee, the prominent St. Louis developer who owns the former Pruitt-Igoe site, to store material there. Piles of concrete slab, brick and rock soon grew to 30 feet tall, towering over the chain link fence separating Pruitt-Igoe from the Gateway school complex’s north entrance.

The Gateway complex on North Jefferson Avenue in St. Louis’ Carr Square neighborhood is comprised of three schools — elementary, middle and an orthopedic special needs school — educating more than 1,000 students in all.

Parents and school staff expressed bewilderment about why Kolb Grading piled the debris so close to the school, rather than on another side of the vacant lot, or someplace else entirely. The vice president at the company, Jeff Kolb, has not returned numerous voicemails requesting an interview. McKee spoke with St. Louis Public Radio by phone but refused to be quoted or recorded.

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