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Environmental Justice Groups’ Concern Continue As Carson-Gore School Opens

by CSS & CCAT Monday, Sep. 13, 2010 at 4:05 PM

Parent Exposed to Toxic Vapors from Nearby Oil Operations

California Safe Schools * California Communities Against Toxics

For Immediate Release

Environmental Justice Groups’ Concern Continue As Contaminated Rachel Carson-Al Gore School of Environmental Studies Opens

Los Angeles- In the wake of reported chemical release at the next door oil operation, child advocacy groups continued to express concerns and respond to calls throughout the week-end about the potential exposure to dangerous chemicals for teachers and students at the new Carson-Gore elementary school in Los Angeles.

Constructed atop contaminated groundwater and soil vapors, between an operating oil well and a contaminated gas station with leaking underground storage tanks, with a gas line running in front of the school, and within 600 feet of the Santa Monica Freeway, the school is a poster child of school-siting gone bad.

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

• Toxic gases were released from the oil well operation next to the school site as recently as last Friday, when a news crew interviewing a parent were overcome with toxic fumes from the operation.

* Inquiries to local safety authorities revealed a history of calls reporting toxic releases from the oil operation.

* Contaminated groundwater under the site provides a source of toxic vapors which can come up under the ground and seep into buildings. Without a full vapor intrusion monitoring plan for the school buildings children and teachers could be exposed to carcinogenic vapors without their knowledge.

• The new school site has requested a deed restriction (restricting the construction of new buildings at the site) because so much contamination is allowed to remain in place while the school operates.

• Unidentified offsite sources of toxic contamination in groundwater are still spreading into the school yard, creating threats to students’ health.

"I was being interviewed on 3rd Avenue, in front of the doors of Plains Exploration (an oil operation across the street from the Carson-Gore school) when I was overcome by fumes that made my eyes and throat burn. We had to move away from the site in order to continue the interview, said Deborah Bell Holt, parent and community leader. “I do not want this to happen to anyone else, especially young children. Later I had a severe headache and sore throat that lasted two days. What was I exposed to, and what safety precautions are in place to avoid these releases is unknown at this time.

I urge all parents, community members, and stakeholders to get monthly or quarterly reports on all the monitoring system data at the school and the dangers or safety issues that may be connected to them.”

Recently, 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, 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:

Robina Suwol
California Safe Schools

Jane Williams
California Communities Against Toxics
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