“All Children Deserve a Healthy Learning Environment” -says the US Environmental Protection Agency, yet they have failed us all.
In October 2013, twenty-one Malibu Middle and High School teachers sent a letter to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District stating that their “health has been adversely affected” by working on the Malibu High School campus. Three of the 21 teachers had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer within a six-month period, and the others were experiencing symptoms such as migraines, hair loss, respiratory problems, and rashes. As of today, we know of a fourth case of thyroid cancer, many with thyroid disease and children diagnosed with autoimmune illnesses.
The teachers and community members learned that three years earlier, soil on campus had tested positive for nine toxins, including PCB and pesticides known to be carcinogenic. Parents also learned that in the summer of 2011, more than 1,100 cubic yards of toxic soil was removed from the center of the campus. Parents and teachers had been told this was being done as part of a campus improvement project, not as toxic soil remediation. Upon learning this, teachers became worried for themselves and their students and asked to have their classrooms and soil tested for toxins, specifically those discovered in 2010. Teachers and parents at adjacent Juan Cabrillo Elementary School have also joined in this call since the schools were built at about the same time on the same plot of land.
The environmental issues at Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo Elementary have caused much concern for our community. Today we know that 18 classrooms are contaminated with PCBs in 8 different buildings. The levels found were up to 570,000ppm, the highest in the nation. Yet the district refuses to properly test and remove PCBs in violation of the law. Students and teachers are still occupying classrooms with high levels of PCBs despite the hazards and the special education students are in the highest buildings at both schools.
America Unites alongside PEER filed a TSCA citizen’s suit against the district in hopes that a judge will force them remove all PCBs over 50 ppm in like-kind building material.
America Unites gives Malibu a voice to advocate for healthy schools. Today we are faced with the great responsibility of removing toxins in our schools so that children and teachers have a safe haven in which to learn and to teach. Together we can help ensure that Malibu schools are operating at the highest standards of health and safety, not just for this generation of Malibu children and teachers, but for generations to come.
Uniting the community to ensure high standards of health and safety in all schools, for all children and those who educate them.
1.Testing of PCB sources, caulking throughout the school to identify the nature and extent of PCBs contamination.
2. Removal of PCBs over 50ppm in compliance with the law.
3. Protect children by providing them PCB-free portable classrooms until PCBs are removed from schools.
4.Community input in assessment, planning, testing, and remediation