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District approves $80K increase of DTSC work

Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
3:31 pm PDT August 25, 2014

Following a Board of Education approval on Wednesday, Aug. 13, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will pay nearly $80,000 more for additional work for a preliminary environmental assessment at Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo Elementary School.
Approved as an amendment to the District’s Voluntary Investigation Agreement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), four tasks were added to the DTSC’s workload and upped the cost by $70,930; from $41,664 to $112,594.
The Board approved the addendum to the Voluntary Investigation Agreement without discussion by Board members or public comments from members of the community.
“This amendment provides a scope of work to describe the additional tasks required by the DTSC to complete the PEA [preliminary assessment report],” the DTSC’s amendment reads.
The PEA itself will “determine whether a release or threatened release of hazardous substances exists at the Site which poses a threat to human health, and whether further investigation or remedial action is necessary.”
The hazardous substances in question are polychlorinated biphenyls – PCBs – that are believed by PCB-cleanup advocates to have caused at least three incidents of cancer among faculty members at the Malibu schools.
The four additions to the scope of work to be completed by the DTSC include stakeholder coordination, oversight of the PEA fieldwork, reviews of laboratory data, as well as the PEA report itself.
In stakeholder coordination, the DTSC will agree to provide technical support that includes meeting with stakeholders existing within and outside of the SMMUSD, as well as address concerns originating from community groups – such as Malibu Unites – and the general public. The DTSC will also coordinate with regulatory agencies to issue fact sheets and community notices, while ensuring that current project information is accessible to the public.
In oversight of the assessment fieldwork, the DTSC is committing itself to providing routine oversight of field investigations and communication with the SMMUSD, as well as Environ, on a regular basis. Oversight of the fieldwork would ensure that collected samples are managed and analyzed with a “conditionally approved” PEA work plan the DTSC accepted on June 27 this year.
The DTSC is also committing itself to conducting a review of validated sampling data as the data is made available by Environ. The DTSC is also agreeing to publish its validation online.
Finally, the DTSC is agreeing to conduct a review of Environ’s PEA report to “determine if it has been prepared in accordance” with the DTSC’s own “Preliminary Endangerment Assessment Guidance Manual.”
The original Voluntary Investigation Agreement, provided by the DTSC, was entered into by the District following approval at a Feb. 6 Board of Education meeting.
Two weeks later, the District received a letter from DTSC Branch Chief Thomas Cota, who indicated the agency needed to modify language in the original agreement by deleting the first section of examples in the scope of work section.
The revised Voluntary Investigation Agreement was approved by the Board at its March 6 meeting.