ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A steady downpour of rain did not dampen the passion behind the voices of dozens of students who gathered for a demonstration outside of Rochester Prep Tuesday.
They were protesting over recent reports that traces of trichloroethylene (TCE), a carcinogenic chemical solvent from a former industrial site, remain near St. Paul Street and Martin Street.
"We want them to know that we won't stand for being in a building that could cause us future health problems. While they're saying it won't affect us now, you have to think later on," said Ayesha Lee, a student.
The protest comes after a meeting Monday night during which administrators addressed the chemical contamination concerns with parents. Many in attendance walked away unsatisfied.
"There should be no kids, no staff, no one in this building at all whatsoever because you have levels that they're saying are higher than normal that shouldn't be here," said Joel Lee, a parent.
The Department of Environmental Conservation says testing began at the St. Paul site in 2008, revealing traces of a chemical used to remove grease from parts.
Both the DEC and the Department of Health say results are consistently below the guideline and do not represent an immediate exposure concern for students or staff.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says safety comes first.
"I'm not questioning the data but at this point in time because of the fact that the levels, sometimes they're up and sometimes they're down, if you're not able to control it and make sure that at all times, that the building is safe, the best thing that you can do is remove kids from the situation," said Warren.
The building also houses All City High, which is a city school. The Rochester City School District offered a response to the environmental concerns.
A district spokesman says multiple agencies, including the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health deemed the building safe as recently as last month.
"We want to ensure all parents and the community that the kids are safe. The building is safe to be in," said Carlos Garcia, an RCSD spokesman.
Garcia added that despite the building being deemed safe, the district is listening to concerns and even exploring the option of moving the school to a new facility.