Irvine residents concerned about future Portola High School site

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A brand new school is usually welcome news. But in Irvine, not everyone is happy about the future Portola High School. (KABC)

A brand new school is usually welcome news. But in Irvine, not everyone is happy about the future Portola High School.

It's being called a state-of-the-art school, being constructed on a 40-acre site that used to be the El Toro Marine Corps base.

The future school has been marred by controversy-since 2014, when contaminated soil was discovered. Tests showed the presence of hydrocarbons and naphthalene, which is considered cancer-causing by the state.

"Small levels of diesel fuel were found on the northern edge of the school site, but it was determined by two independent test labs that the material was non-hazardous, and that it was safe," said Annie Brown of the Irvine Unified School District.

The soil was removed. The district says more than 200 tests confirmed it's a safe site, but some residents are still concerned.

"I wouldn't send my child there because they feel there could still be a risk of problems for the students there," said Debbie Armstrong of Irvine.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition asking for construction to be suspended until independent testing is done, and the site is determined safe. In response to concerns, the state has ordered additional samples be gathered and tested.

Officials say the testing may take about a month and will not likely disrupt construction. The school is still expected to open in August.
Related Topics:
educationschoolhigh schoolhealthIrvineOrange County
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