A newly built elementary school in the Dallas district was constructed on contaminated land, a local TV station reports.
KDFW-TV reports that the contamination at Jose “Joe” May Elementary School, which opened in August, is serious enough that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has stepped in to oversee cleanup of the property.
The concern stems from contaminated soil left behind by a gas station and dry cleaner that operation on the site from the 1960s to 2012. Public records show the school district is monitoring the air quality inside the school for harmful chemicals and has been doing so for months. Out of 227 schools in the district, May Elementary is only one being monitored by the TCEQ for contaminated soil.
Environment reports show some district officials have known about the contaminated soil for at least two years, even before the school was approved to be built In April 2015, the district hired a company to excavate 350 cubic yards of soil from the school site, after the district held a ceremonial groundbreaking.
Then, at the instruction of state regulators, the Dallas district installed a vapor barrier system at the school. Chemical levels inside the school were below levels believed to cause harm and are not a concern.
In response to the news report, May Principal Israel Rivera posted a message on the school's web site that says: "Please do not focus on any negative media regarding the safety of our students. Our school is environmentally safe for our students and staff."
The district also has posted environmental quality reports on the conditions at the school.
Video from KDFW-TV: