Activists say Booker T. Washington site is toxic, urge rebuilding elsewhere

Booker T. Washington High School could be rebuilt in time for the 2017-2018 school year despite concerns about toxins in the soil.

On Tuesday, community activists protested at the site, saying that the toxins are 100 times what the Department of Environmental Quality deems acceptable.

DEQ and FEMA have both signed off on soil remediation plans to remove 3 feet of contaminated soil and top it off with 6 feet of fresh soil before construction begins.

Activists, including retired Lt .Gen. Russell Honore, say that's not enough.

"Seventy 70 years ago we didn't know what we know now," Honore said. "We know now that there's arsenic underneath this ground. It goes down at least 15 feet. RSD and their consultant have determined they can take 2 feet out, maybe 3, and put a piece of plastic down, and that would be it.

"If RSD gets their way, a year from now, in construction will be one of the most expensive schools built post-Katrina in New Orleans on a toxic dump."

According to Honore, the City Council still has to approve the plans for the school. He has urged FEMA and the EPA to rethink where the school is built.

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