Children at three elementary schools near the closed Exide Technologies battery recycling plant returned to classes this week to find parts of their campuses fenced off to protect them from lead-contaminated soil.
Crews installed temporary fencing at Fishburn Avenue Elementary in Maywood, Lorena Street Elementary in Boyle Heights and Rowan Avenue Elementary in East Los Angeles after testing found elevated levels of the brain-damaging metal in several areas, Los Angeles Unified School District officials said.
The district began putting up fencing last week under the instructions of toxic waste regulators, who are overseeing the massive effort to find and remove contaminated soil from homes, schools, day care centers and parks near the former recycling facility in Vernon.
The lead detected in the soil at the three schools “does not pose an immediate threat to the health of students and staff,” but must be covered with mulch or temporarily fenced off “until a more thorough assessment can be made,” Peter Ruttan, a project manager for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, wrote in an August 2 letter to the school district.
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