Toxic Schools

No federal law prevents local authorities from building new schools on contaminated land. However, the problem of building schools on hazardous sites, ranging from old landfills, abandoned factories to even a former Manhattan Project lab, has finally been recognized as a dangerous pattern. 

In reaction, several states have enacted laws to prevent siting of new schools on toxic sites.  These measures provide little relief to a large but unknown number of schools atop hotspots – some for decades, like the Malibu/Cabrillo schools. Besides what is in the soils, many older school buildings are themselves the source of problems. An estimated one-third of U.S. schools have mold, dust and other indoor air problems serious enough to provoke respiratory issues like asthma in students and teachers.Additionally, construction materials have also been shown to be dangerous to long term  A national survey of school nurses found that 40% knew children and staff adversely affected by indoor pollutants.

Malibu/Cabrillo Schools

Protests in  Malibu Unified School District, model Cindy Crawford and actor Josh Malina spoke in defense of students and teachers urging the district to clean up the schools.

In an ongoing PEER case, the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District’s classrooms showed dangerous levels of toxic Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) “over 100,000 ppm (parts-per-million) and measurements up to 570,000 ppm” compared to the statutory limit of only 50 ppm. Several teachers and students had been diagnosed with serious thyroid and autoimmune related illnesses. PEER joined forces with America Unites for Kids to force the District to clean up the schools.

In 2016, the Court ordered that the school district remove all PCBs or cease using the toxic buildings.

“Defendants are hereby permanently enjoined from using any office, classroom, or other structure at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School (‘JCES’) and Malibu Middle and High School (‘MHS’) (collectively the ‘Malibu Campus’) constructed prior to 1979 in which students, teachers, administrators, or staff are regularly present after December 31, 2019, unless all window and door systems and surrounding caulk at any such location has been replaced.”

The EPA has deemed PCBs a probable carcinogen and scientific evidence has shown that they lower IQ, interfere with brain and body development, and cause neurological, endocrine and thyroid disruption. The District expended $13 million to avoid removal, including $6 million on legal fees to fight this case.

In 2018, The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District filed a motion seeking to significantly postpone the effective date of the 2016 federal court order directing removal of illegal levels of hazardous chemicals in its Malibu classrooms and facilities.  If granted, the legal motion would keep students and teachers inside dangerously contaminated buildings until December 31, 2024.

PEER is working with concerned public school teachers, staff and agency professionals to identify and remedy sick schools.

SICK SCHOOLS NEWS FROM PEER

Malibu School Toxic PCB Clean-Up Still a Mess

Students and Teachers Still in Rooms Contaminated Well Above Legal Limits

Malibu Schools Want 5 Year Delay in Toxic PCB Cleanup

Students and Teachers Would Remain in Unsafe Classrooms Until 2024 Demolition

Court Finds Toxic Violations in Malibu Schools

Judge Finds that PCBs Exist Throughout the Schools and Must be Cleaned Up

Malibu Toxic Schools Case Clears Hurdle for Trial

Court Rejects School District Attempt to End PCB Contamination Lawsuit

Malibu School District Sics Cops on Parents

Vandalism Complaint for Taking PCB-Laden Caulk Samples for Lab Testing

Failed Toxic Cleanup at Malibu Schools

Congressman Ted Lieu Sends EPA Reports of Illegal PCBs

EPA Stealth Rollback of School PCB Safeguards

Material and Exposure Testing Discouraged; Child Exposure Levels Loosened

PCBs Removed From Santa Monica Schools but Left in Malibu

Comprehensive Testing and Precautionary Removals Sought but Denied in Malibu

BLM Judge Greenlights Malibu School PCB Lawsuit

District Spending Tops $6 Million in Steps to Avoid Complete Cleanup

School District’s Own Tests Show Shocking PCB Levels

Highly Toxic Classrooms Still Occupied with No Abatement Date Slated

Federal Lawsuit to Force Toxic Cleanup of Malibu Schools

Immediate Removal of PCBs above Legal Limits and School-Wide Testing Sought

Malibu Schools Spending Millions to Avoid Toxic Cleanup

Billings by Lawyers and Consultants Exceed What a Full Cleanup Would Cost

New Malibu Tests Show Alarming Classroom Contamination

Severe Health Risk from Most Toxic Form of PCBs in Stratospheric Concentrations

Malibu Schools Will Remove Known PCBs but Won’t Test for Them

Will School Act on Independent EPA-Lab Tests with Ultra-High Illegal PCB Levels?

District Attorney Called on New PCB Findings in Malibu Schools

School District Threatens Fearful Children with Truancy, Teachers with Termination

Malibu Parents and Teachers Prep Lawsuit to Force Cleanup

Notice to Sue Filed Against District and EPA for Toxic Substances Control Act Violations

Malibu Teachers Face Firing for Balking at Toxic Classrooms

School Officials Threaten Parents With Arrest If They Protest on First Day of School

Malibu Schools Highly Contaminated With Toxic PCBs

Classroom Levels Highest in the Nation; Independent New Tests Show Need for Broader, More Aggressive Remediation Plan

Malibu Teachers Reject Schools PCB Cleanup Plan

Illegal Levels of PCBs to Remain in Classrooms; No Soil Testing on Campuses

Malibu Schools to Test Campus Soils for Toxics

Parents and Teachers Urge Comprehensive and Transparent Assessment

Malibu School Contamination May Stem From WWII Uses

Artillery Depot, Training Base and Motor Pool Occupied Present Day Campuses

Malibu Teachers Refuse Return to Toxic Classrooms

No Confidence in Scope or Effectiveness of District’s Clean-Up Plans

Malibu Teachers Protest District’s Toxic Plans

Focus, Completeness and Transparency of Testing and Clean-Up Faulted

Malibu Teachers Demand Broader Toxic Testing at School

Scope and Source of Contamination Still Unknown as District Tries Damage Control

Widespread Asbestos Violations in Massachusetts Schools

EPA Intervention Demanded to Eliminate Asbestos Problems before Schools Reopen

Toxic New Jersey Elementary School Finally Wins Relief

Vapor Intrusion Controls May End Three-Year Ordeal at Atlantic Highlands

Probe Called for in New Jersey Toxic High School Fiasco

Inspector General Asked Why “Kiddie Kollege” Law Failed Clifton High School

MERCURY IN NEW JERSEY DAY-CARE CENTER 3,000 TIMES STANDARD

State Wants to Demolish Old Thermometer Plant but No Further Testing of Kids

NEW JERSEY SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION REFORM GETS FAILING MARKS

No Environmental Reviews Prior to Building More Schools on Toxic Sites

NEW JERSEY AGENCY LETS KIDS PLAY ON TOXIC WASTE PILES

No Warnings or Postings for Years as State Dickers with Company

60 MORE NEW JERSEY DAY-CARE CENTERS NAMED ON TOXIC WARNINGS

Hundreds of Homes, Schools and Other Facilities May Also Be Vulnerable

CORZINE URGED TO CLOSE LOOPHOLES IN TOXIC DAY-CARE BILL

Conditional Veto Could Strike Out Exemptions and Strengthen Safeguards

NEW JERSEY AGENCY SAT ON SECRET LIST OF 6,000 TOXIC DANGER SITES

Latest Corzine “Kiddie Kollege” Reform Scheme Falls Well Short of Mark

NEW JERSEY TOXIC DAY CARE REFORM BILL STILL MISSES THE MARK

State Grasping for Quick Fixes to Broken Brownfields Program

NEW JERSEY LEAVES DOOR OPEN FOR MORE SCHOOLS ON TOXIC SITES

Governor’s “Working Group” Dodges Question of Acquiring Toxic Land for Schools

CALL FOR INSPECTOR GENERAL TO HEAD MERCURY DAY-CARE PROBE

Severe Toxic Problems Acknowledged in 2002 Internal “Vulnerability Assessment”

MERCURY-LADEN DAY-CARE CENTER IN NEW JERSEY IS NO ANOMALY

Lax State Brownfield Laws Make Tragedy an “Accident Waiting to Happen”

RADIOACTIVE SCHOOL SITE IS TIP OF NEW JERSEY TOXIC ICEBERG

Over 100 School Site approvals expedited under Secret Deal
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