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troung
07 Sep 10,, 20:00
1 hr 37 mins ago
School bearing Al Gore’s name built on contaminated site
By Brett Michael Dykes

By Brett Michael Dykes brett Michael Dykes – 1 hr 37 mins ago

Al Gore can't seem to catch a break these days.

Between a high-profile public divorce, accusations of sexual assault, and a crazed gunman citing his work as the inspiration for his "awakening," the former vice president's image has been in a bit of a PR freefall of late.

Now this bit of cruel irony: The Los Angeles-area Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Sciences, named after Gore and pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson , was built atop an environmentally contaminated piece of real estate, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some are now raising concerns that the $75.5 million school -- which sits across the street from an oil well -- may pose long-term health risks to its students, faculty and staff, as the groundwater beneath it is contaminated by chemicals.

[Los Angeles unveils $578 million school]

As the L.A. Times' Howard Blume reports, construction crews worked furiously through the Labor Day weekend to remove dirt "from two 3,800-square-foot plots to a depth of 45 feet, space enough to hold a four-story building." According to Blume, the soil in those plots once held more than a dozen industrial storage tanks that had contaminated the site's groundwater. Also beneath the school were the underground tanks from a nearby gas station.

The plan now is for workers to replace the potentially tainted soil with clean soil that school officials have lined up from other sources. The crews are rushing to complete the work before fall semester starts Sept. 13 for the nearly 700 students enrolled.

[Global warming skeptic reverses course]

Some environmental groups are raising an outcry over the alleged health risks associated with the school's site. School officials say that everything is fine.

"There's no doubt in my mind that the site is safe, and if there are any changes, our monitoring or our existing processes will detect it and we'll react to that," L.A. school system safety chief John Sterritt told the paper. "We really go out of our way to make sure these properties are safe."

(Photo of Gore: AP/Rick Scuteri)