The site proposed for Audubon’s temporary campus has lead contamination in the soil of the playground area exceeding federal standards by 10 times or more, prompting some parents to insist the entire site have the lead removed before their children arrive next fall.
Audubon’s Broadway Street campus is slated for a renovation project that will require a temporary campus for students for two years and, unable to find an existing building that would serve the purpose, officials are considering building modular buildings on a vacant lot in the Lower Garden District. The site previously held several houses, and OPSB consultants told parents in late March that their demolition probably left the soil contaminated, prompting the need for lead testing that was already underway.
In a March 31 report included in a May 9 update on the project on the Orleans Parish School Board website, investigators said they found lead levels in the soil ranging from 660 to 7,700 parts per million in every tract of the playground area they tested, well in excess of the 440-ppm federal standard for play areas or even the 1200-ppm standard for non-play areas.
The investigators’ initial recommendation was for either short-term remediation in the playground through planting fresh sod atop the contaminated soil, or for more permanent solutions such as soil replacement or a concrete covering. The OPSB consultants conclude in the report that they will follow the recommendations, and are waiting on specifics from the lead investigators.
Short-term remediation of only the playground strikes a group of Audubon parents as an insufficient solution, however, and they are asking the school in an online petition to employ the full remediation measures across the entire site. About 80 electronic “signatures” were listed on the petition by Monday evening.
“Let us not settle for “interim” controls such as covering with low lead clean soil followed by placement of sod. Let us request a permanent remediation involving soil replacement in the playground area and encapsulation by concrete in the parking lot & drop-off/pick-up areas,” the petition reads. “Please protect our children from these harmful effects of lead and support lead mitigation on the entire future school site. Convenience should not trump safety.”
Orleans Parish School Board member Lourdes Moran of Algiers, an Audubon grandparent, told WWL News that the schoolchildren’s safety will be ensured.
“I would not jeopardize my child, my grandchild, or anyone’s child. It’s just not within my personality to expose any child to a perilous situation,” she said. She added, “It is not our intent to make [parents] feel uncomfortable, but unfortunately we really have no options.”
Contact Robert Morris at rmorris@NolaMessenger.com, or post your comment below.