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Calif. School Named for Al Gore May Be Toxic for Students

A $75.5-million school in Los Angeles named for former Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to open Sept. 13, but may pose serious health risks for students.

A new $75 million campus dedicated to "environmental themes" has been named for former Vice President Al Gore (and Rachel Carson who championed environmentalists' campaign against the use of DDT, a chemical used to fight off malaria-carrying mosquitos).  The Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Sciences is scheduled to open its doors for a new school year on September 13, but classes may be delayed unless excavation crews can successfully remove and replace toxic dirt on the premises:

The LA Times reports:

Construction crews were working at the campus up to the Labor Day weekend, replacing toxic soil with clean fill. All told, workers removed dirt from two 3,800-square-foot plots to a depth of 45 feet, space enough to hold a four-story building. The soil had contained more than a dozen underground storage tanks serving light industrial businesses.

Additional contamination may have come from the underground tanks of an adjacent gas station. A barrier will stretch 45 feet down from ground level to limit future possible fuel leakage.

An oil well operates across the street, but officials said they've found no associated risks. Like many local campuses, this school also sits above an oil field, but no oil field-related methane has been detected.

Groundwater about 45 feet below the surface remains contaminated but also poses no risk, officials said. ...

Before settling on honoring Gore, the school's naming committee teased the idea of naming the school after a communist, but that idea was dropped after one member of the committee objected:

In the spring, a school-naming committee received six options, including Pete Seeger Community School. A representative from school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte suggested that the folk singer's "affiliation with the Communist Party," among other factors, made that choice inappropriate, two in attendance recalled.

Taking a page out of Michelle Obama's book, the principal plans to install an organic food garden to supply a student-run farmers market. But Robina Suwol, head of the California Safe Schools coalition says that she'd feel better if the vegetables were grown in planters above-ground.

Better safe than sterile, I suppose.

One last thing…
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