The Department of Education (DOE) discovered soil contamination at the school's 57th Avenue and 74th Street site while conducting an environmental assessment of the property.
Reportedly, that information was sent to Community Board 5 and the City Council, though it was not made public until right now.
DOE spokesman Will Havemann said the occurrence was unremarkable: soil contamination is found on most city properties and will be removed with by the DOE before the new school is built.
"The Department of Education observes rigorous and very conservative standards in determining whether a site is suitable for school construction," Havemann said in a statement. "We proposed the Maspeth high school site only after establishing that it will be completely safe for the building's students and staff."
In a statement Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley agreed the contamination was routine and pledged to work with the city to ensure its removal before construction begins on the 1,100-seat school, which the City Council approved earlier this month despite her opposition.
"Toxins in soil on industrial sites is a given," Crowley said. She said by law the DOE, Department of Conservation and Department of Environmental Protection are obligated to identify and remove the contaminated soil if they wish to proceed with the building of a school.
"Bottom line," said Crowley, "I stand behind my vote which was against this school."