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Environmental Justice Groups Blast LAUSD on Opening of Contaminated School

by California Safe Schools Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010 at 11:10 AM

Groups are concerned about the potential exposure to dangerous chemicals for teachers and students at the new Title I elementary school.To qualify as a Title I School, 40% or more of its students come from low-income families

A coalition of environmental justice groups sent a letter to Superintendent Cortines and LAUSD board members at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) this week regarding an elementary school built on top of a contaminated site. The school, Central School #13 (to be renamed the Rachel Carson - Al Gore School of Environmental Studies), has been constructed atop contaminated groundwater and between an operating oil well and a contaminated gas station.

The groups are concerned about the potential exposure to dangerous chemicals for teachers and students at the new school because:

· Excavation of contaminated soils is still occurring on the site, as well as treatment of contaminated groundwater, yet school starts in three weeks.

· The new school site has requested a deed restriction (restricting the construction of new buildings at the site) in an effort to reduce exposure to contaminated soil vapors.

· Unidentified offsite sources of toxic contamination are still spreading and further contaminating groundwater under the site, creating a new threat to students’ health.

Last week, environmental justice leaders in Los Angeles highlighted conditions at the school to Jared Blumenfeld, the US EPA Region 9 Administrator and Lisa Garcia, the special Environmental Justice Assistant to Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the US EPA, during a toxic tour of Los Angeles. The US EPA is poised to use a framework similar to California’s in its new national school siting guidance document to be released this December. Advocates are concerned that since California’s school siting laws, considered to be the most protective in the country, could allow the construction of this elementary school on such a contaminated site, that relying on them for new national guidance is not sound public policy.

For more information on the cleanup plans at the school, visit the online archive of remediation documents at http://www.dtsc.ca.gov and go to Envirostor, then Central School #13.

For additional information:

California Safe Schools

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