FOX 8 News received this press release from the City of New Orleans Friday evening:
NEW ORLEANS, LA— Today, the City announced that it will temporarily close a section of Desmare Playground at 3456 Esplanade Avenue after detecting elevated levels of lead in the soil. The New Orleans Recreational Development Commission (NORDC) and the Office of Coastal and Environmental Affairs made the determination to test the playground in recent weeks before a community organization planned a rebuild project.
The City requested that Materials Management Group (MMG), under the leadership of certified Lead Inspector and Lead Risk Assessor Dr. Paul Lo, conduct an investigation of the playground. Dr. Lo previously worked with the City on testing of 18 parks and subsequent remediation of 11 playgrounds in 2011.
The City is working to remediate Desmare playground in the next two weeks, after which, the affected areas will be tested again before being reopened.
The estimated cost for the remediation is $3400.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo said, "Our public agencies have moved swiftly in instances where elevated lead levels may exist to ensure public health safety for our kids. We will always err on the side of caution. Lead in the soil is a particular issue for kids under 6 years old who may ingest the soil around the playground. We once again are encouraging all parents in our city, especially those with children under age six, to have their kids tested for lead."
The City will be working over the next several days to communicate with nearby residents and businesses, including meeting with the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association. Cabrini High School and Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church are adjacent to the park, and Cabrini uses a baseball field at Desmare Playground that did not have elevated levels and will not be impacted by remediation.
Mitigation procedures typically vary depending on the locations where soil lead level exceeded the current soil standards. These procedures might include:
1. Placing geotextile fabric over areas where elevated lead levels were found, then covering these areas with clean soil and then mulch or sod;
2. Excavating elevated lead soil, placing geotextile fabric, covering these areas with clean soil , and then sod; and
3. Placing clean soil and sod only.
The City did not detect lead based paint on the play equipment or painted surfaces on the property.
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