Pollution Fine Helps Fund Columbus Science Classes

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U.S. Attorney, Carter Stewart, (center next to podium) presents check from anti-pollution settlement to Columbus City Schools superintendent Gene Harris and others at Grange Audubon Center on Whittier Peninsula.(Photo: Tom Borgerding/WOSU)
U.S. Attorney, Carter Stewart, (center next to podium) presents check from anti-pollution settlement to Columbus City Schools superintendent Gene Harris and others at Grange Audubon Center on Whittier Peninsula.(Photo: Tom Borgerding/WOSU)

A federal court settlement in a pollution case against a Columbus factory will allow city elementary school students to get hands-on science instruction.

Students in ten southside Columbus elementary schools next year will be taking some classes at the new Metroparks Scioto Peninsula Audubon Center. $70,000 in funds for the classes come, in part, from settlement of a federal environmental lawsuit against Columbus Steel Castings for violations of the Clean Air Act.

U-S Attorney Carter Stewart says the settlement is part of what he called the most “productive period” of federal environmental prosecutions in the history of Columbus.

“My sense is that we are doing a better job of finding the cases. That there is more investigative resources being put into it. There’s more collaboration among the state, federal, and local agencies.” Says Stewart. “So I think we’re finding what’s already been there. But, we’re just doing it at a higher rate.”

Stewart says the U-S attorney’s office wants to connect fines to those who suffered from illegal pollution. In this case, the air pollution violations came from a foundry on South Parsons Avenue.

Columbus superintendent Gene Harris says expansion of classes at the new Audubon Center opens opportunity for more students to learn critical science lessons.

“This is very important to the southside.”  Harris says. “It’s very important to the students on the southside who may not have the opportunity to take advantage of a really environmental situation like this and learn about the environment in such a hands-on way.”

Harris says the Audubon Center classes will be part of the district’s science curriculum.

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