EPA Official Meets With Parents, District Officials About Tests at Malibu Schools

The closed-door meeting was scheduled after months of complaints from parents who want soil tests on the school campuses

A member of the United States Environmental Protection Agency arrived Friday morning to visit with Malibu school officials at the request of parents who have expressed concerns about toxic substances at campuses.

A closed-door meeting involving the direction of the Region 9 USEPA, parents and members of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was scheduled for Friday. Parents have said they are concerned about testing and remediation measures at Malibu middle and high schools and nearby Juan Cabrillo Elementary School.

The meeting is expected to focus on enforcement of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, a federal law that regulates testing and restrictions on certain chemicals. No cameras were allowed on the tour or at the meeting.

Concerns were raised early last year after three teachers at the school were diagnosed with thyroid cancer, prompting staff, parents and students to demand testing for carcinogens.

Preliminary environmental tests done on the school in October ruled out mold as a health hazard. But parents and educators demanded more comprehensive tests, including on campus soil, to determine whether contaminants caused the illnesses.

In November, tests of carcinogen levels at Malibu High School revealed that some caulk samples contained PCB levels above legal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency, officials said. The majority of the samples came back with levels below regulatory limits, but a "few" of the samples showed results higher than the EPA standard, according to the Santa Monica Malibu Environment Task Force.

Malibu Unites, a group pushing for additional tests, contends the EPA refused to approved the school district's preliminary testing plan. In a response to those claims, the company hired to conduct tests indicated tests would begin this month.

"We understand that Environ and the SMMUSD will begin to implement the testing plan at the Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo on June 16, 2014," according to the letter from Environ sent to the school district.

It was not immediately clear whether the tests have been conducted, but signs on campus indicate that soil tests are being performed.

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