Letter: Time for Change

In November 2013, SMMUSD tested caulk, the most likely source of PCB contamination at Malibu High, in 10 rooms at the school. The test revealed PCB levels in excess of legal limits in four of those rooms. The law requires the caulk in those rooms to be removed. To my knowledge, this caulk has not been removed.

The logical next step was to test the caulk in the remaining rooms at MHS, to see which of those rooms had the same PCB issue. To my knowledge, after the November 2013 test, the District has not tested the caulk at MHS for PCBs. Why? Because if it tests and finds PCB levels in excess of legal limits, the district is required to remove the caulk. If it does not test, however, it will not find any contamination, meaning; it will not be required to remove any caulk. By not testing the caulk, the district conveniently avoids having to remove it.

For months, parents have asked the district to test the caulk at MHS. Finally, this summer, parents had caulk from several locations at MHS independently tested. The law requires the removal of building materials with PCB levels in excess of 50 ppm. Malibu Unites reported that the tests commissioned by parents revealed PCB levels as high as 370,000 ppm, over 7,000 times the level permitted by law.

The district’s response to these test results was to chastise parents for testing the caulk. Who cares who did the testing? The important thing is that the caulk was finally tested, and that it contains extremely high levels of PCBs. Despite this information, the district has expressed no intention of testing or removing caulk at MHS. Instead, it has implemented a cleaning program, which will leave PCB-contaminated caulk in place.

The district’s words—that it has deep concern for the students’ safety—have not been matched by its actions. It is time for the district to give top priority to the health and safety of its students and teachers. Test and remove the caulk that is causing PCB contamination at MHS.

Len Simonian, MHS parent

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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