Hiring of an Environmental Engineering Firm

Hiring of an Environmental Engineering Firm

Dear Parents, Teachers, and Community Members:

It has been quite a week. Many ups and downs, but isn’t that the definition of life? I hope all of you had a wonderful week in this beautiful weather god has bestowed upon us. Summer in January, we are so blessed!

On Monday, thanks to all of you, I sat on the panel to interview the Environmental Engineering Firms (EEF). There were four that came in, Environ, Exponent, Terraphase and AMEC. Two stood out to me. Environ and Terraphase. Environ is a full service firm with many scientist in different fields. They presented as a team, were well spoken, well educated and experienced. The project manager (she), came across as compassionate, confident and experienced. This was important to me because this will be the person who will present to all of you. I wanted to make sure that not only can this group do this job, but they will work with us to communicate the process and engage our input. Environ shared their past experience so that we may understand how they will be able to assist our school. Environ has all resources and staff in house.

Terraphase, was a smaller company that worked closely with other companies that would be needed in this process. They seemed to work fluidly with one another on past projects. Terraphase researched all of our documents and presented a detained plan to us. They spoke to us about specifics, how they would test our campus, the time projections, etc. We had the opportunity to ask detailed questions about our project, that other agencies were not prepared for. I thought they had a great handle on what has occurred up to now and agreed with their assessment of next steps. However, they did not have the depth of scientists available to them like Environ. They were a relatively new agency. They were also based in Northern San Diego County where Environ was based in Los Angeles.

The entire panel agreed that it came down to these final 2 EEF. We discussed our perspectives. The scientists on our panel had past experience with Environ and they were confident in their ability. Jan Maez was asked to do some further investigations and contact some references before we made a final decision. She did this and the information she relayed to us, lead us to a unanimous vote for Environ, because we thought the depth of their experience and staff would be best.

I am hopeful that starting with a new EEF can allow a fresh start. We have learned from the past 3 months some valuable lessons: we have a source of PCBs in caulk and the EPA, under TSCA regulation will be responsible for this, the dust and dirt inside the school must be cleaned up to prevent an exposure path to our kids and teachers, that we must have community oversight throughout this process to ensure it’s success, testing plans, policy and remediation plans must be presented for public comment to have community buy-in, full disclosure and transparency must be a priority, and communication must improve.

Each of these items above was addressed at the EEF interviews and I hope that Environ will lead these efforts and engage our community in planning like they said.

I want to thank my fellow interview panel for taking 10+ hours of their day to work towards a common goal.
The task force meeting on Thursday was terrible. 3 people hijacked an initially productive meeting about the new EEF and turned it into a personal attack session directed at other parents and teachers. The meeting never recovered.

I have emailed Sandra Lyon regarding this meeting and have asked her to address these people and insist that there be a high standard of conduct required at all meetings and their behavior last Thursday will not be tolerated, There is a no bullying policy for our district, and this should also be enforced at our meetings.

Ending this message on a positive note, Sandra Lyon said she received a message from the EPA; there is some preliminary data that tells us that the cleaning was successful in lowering PCBs in the air tests. Over winter break 18 rooms were cleaned and tested. Only 5 of these rooms were reviewed and tested by the EPA. I have not seen the results myself. According to the EPA, cleaning of the rooms to reduce/ remove dust and increasing the ventilation so there is a healthy indoor outdoor air exchange are some things that can be done to reduce exposure.

If anyone has any questions please feel free to contact me jd18@me.com :)

Have a wonderful 3 day weekend.

Warm Regards,


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