In order to treat unsafe levels of lead and other toxic heavy metals, three feet of soil must be removed and replaced in areas of the Booker T. Washington High School site at 1201 South Roman Street that will not be covered by asphalt or buildings, according to state recommendations reported on by Mark Schleifstein of The Times-Picayune. Monique Harden, an attorney for the Walter L. Cohen Alumni Association, is asking the state to treat the entire site as a hazardous-waste site, Schleifstein reports.
Now, finally settled into their long-promised new building on Marengo Street with a new operator preparing for next year, Crocker parents are now faced with yet another worry — enough peeling lead paint has been discovered in the campus where Crocker kids spent the longest part of their odyssey to warrant an emergency remediation before the building can be used again. But with lead poisoning known to affect intelligence levels, the broader question of how many other students are at risk around the city remains unanswered.
Audubon Charter School has indefinitely postponed the renovations of its Broadway Street campus after its plan to use a lead-saturated site in the Lower Garden District for a temporary campus was deemed “unacceptable” by state officials, the school announced late Wednesday.
Lead levels in the soil at the proposed temporary site of Audubon Charter School are the highest one scientist has ever seen in New Orleans, but he assured a cafeteria packed with concerned, angry and sometimes unconvinced parents Thursday night that the remediation techniques he suggests will make the campus safe.
“This is the highest lead I’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Paul Lo, a certified lead inspector and lead risk assessor with Materials Management Group Inc., who has headed recent remediation efforts at playgrounds around the city. “But your children are not going to play on the existing conditions, and that’s a fact.”
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.
Three Uptown New Orleans playgrounds – Danneel, Annunciation and Taylor – are closing immediately after unacceptably high levels of lead were found in the soil there, city officials said.
More than 400 mg/kg of lead in the soil is considered a hazard by state and federal health agencies, a level exceeded at several Uptown playgrounds. Inspectors found the following amounts, according to the full report: