Malibu Unites Celebrates: DTSC Agrees to Test the Soil

Malibu Unites Celebrates: DTSC Agrees to Test the Soil

Great News!

Malibu Unites Celebrates:
DTSC agrees to test the soil on all three campuses.

It is with great pleasure that Malibu Unites announces a major victory for the Malibu community. This would not have been possible without our community advocates, our strong voice and our continued quest for the truth.
We just received an email from the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) stating that the DTSC will perform comprehensive soil testing on the three campuses. Maria Gillette of the DTSC, emailed to say, “DTSC is proposing to conduct a Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the soil at the entire Malibu HS campus (including the Middle and Elementary Schools). The soil sampling effort will be similar, but more comprehensive than the work ARCADIS conducted in 2010.”  click here to see email
Malibu Unites has shown that together and united we are making a difference. We are extremely thankful to our entire leadership team, our distinguished advisory council as well as all of you, for your support and commitment.
This is a distinct step in the right direction but there is much more work still that needs to be done. Most important, we need to work with the district and the regulatory agencies to ensure that the testing is done properly. We have been advised that independent oversight is critical to ensuring accurate and unbiased results. Our experts are currently working on testing protocols and acceptable detection limits. We need your support to continue our work to ensure the health and safety of our children and teachers.
Please join us at next week’s events:
Tuesday, March 18th from 10:30am-12:30
Malibu United Methodist Church: Coffee With Penny Newman, executive director and founder of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. Penny has 30 plus years’ of experience with toxic school sites. She will talk with us about:
  • community strategies to ensure our kids are safe
  • next steps to take and why
  • how being united is the key to our success
  • a Q & A with Penny, will follow

Thursday, March 20th from 6:30-7:30
Malibu City Hall: SMMUSD Board Meeting in Malibu. We are asking for 1 hour of your family’s time. Please come by 6:30 so the board can see how important this issue is to our community and that we stand united.

What else can you do to help? We welcome any and all support from you. We need advocates, whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours. This is a grassroots effort. If everyone does a little, a lot can be accomplished. Please send us email to contact us on our webpage.

Join Malibu Unites at, like us on Facebook at MalibuUnites, & follow us on Twitter @MalibuUnites.

Warmest Regards,

Jennifer deNicola
Malibu Unites, President
About Jennifer deNicola
Jennifer has two children at Malibu Middle School, a master’s in education. Jennifer is on the SMMUSD Environmental Task Force and has been advocating for the MHS/JC students and teachers since October 2013. Jennifer was the first to reach out to the EPA and DTSC. She has developed relationships with all the key regulatory agencies. Jennifer along with other concerned parents founded Malibu Unites to bring the community together in service of a common goal: to understand the extent of the contamination and fully remediate so that we may protect our children and those that educate them.

Letter to SMMUSD Board urging them to direct their district staff to be more forthcoming, transparent, and timely.

Letter to SMMUSD Board urging them to direct their district staff to be more forthcoming, transparent, and timely.

Dear SMMUSD Board of Directors and Sandy,

I was reading the Feb 7th Board Update and it states that the Environ agreement and scope of work was finalized and is in the process of being executed. We have asked to see this many times. It is now Feb 21st and as far as I know, no one outside of your staff has seen this contract and scope of work. This process should be a collaborative effort with parents, teachers and the district. This should not be a district staff only discussion.
The scope of work has not even been presented to the task force members. It has been 5 weeks since we agreed to hire Environ. There is an EPA deadline at the end of Feb to provide them a plan to address all the pre-1979 caulk at Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo. How can we meet that if Environ is not on board and the scope of work has not been vetted by the parents and teachers?
Testing for PCBs in the classroom is not the only contaminant we should be testing for. All contaminants found in the soil in 2010 should be screened inside the classrooms.
The soil on the entire 2 campuses should be tested for all contaminants found in the soil in 2010 and screened for all toxins like it was done in 2011. According to the 2010, Removal Action Workplan, no source was identified for the PCBs or pesticides, so no one can assume that the contaminants were only around the buildings in the quad. Even the DTSC agrees, a full campus soil test is required.
In 2010, Arcadis used a residential screening level based on DTSC guidance with the most sensitive exposures. We need to error on the side of health and safety by using residential screening levels at a 1 in 1 million cancer risk. This should be the standard for all testing on our campuses. This is about our children.
This is what was in our soil above the screening levels.

PCB Araclor 1254: 1420 ug/kg (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 89ug/kg)

Toluene: 1.1mg/l to 4.3mg/l

Benzene: exceeded residential CHHSL

DDE: 361ug/kg

DDT: 46.7ug/kg

Alpha Chlordane: 683 ug/kg    (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Gamma Chlordane: 305ug/kg    (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Technical Chlordane: 1910ug/kg    (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Lead: 304mg/kg   (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 80mg/kg)

Arsenic: 10.6mg/kg

Cadmium: 4.77mg/kg

(source Removal Action Workplan 8-5-10 pg 10-15)


I have stressed many times over the last 5 months how important this issue is to the health of our children and our teachers. We have given the district ample time to get everyone in place to do comprehensive testing of the entire campus, Our kids and teachers are at school everyday and we DO NOT know if the campus is safe or not. We have tested for only 1 toxin (PCBs) in very few rooms. The EPA directed Mark Katchen to test with the windows closed, yet the very next day, he testing with the windows open! In addition to this, every expert I have spoken to says we cannot find out if there is a PCB source in a room if we test with the windows open, so all of those tests done with the windows open are worthless.

The district needs to get comprehensive soil and classroom air testing completed so we can see what is really going on at MHS and JC. The parents and the teachers are not going to let this rest until this testing is done correctly and the district is fully transparent and all stakeholders have a say.

We cannot wish this away; we cannot continue to delay this testing. We have a right to know about the environment in which we send our kids to everyday. This is about children… we owe it to them to make sure their environment is the safest it can be.

I urge the Board of Education to oversee the staff and direct them to be more forthcoming, transparent and timely to address this issue. I say this because up to now, the parents and teachers do not feel this has been the case. Something has to change, the board is the oversight to the staff, I am hoping that all of you will take an active role and ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the scope, planning, testing and remediation. If you want the parents and teachers to support what you are doing, then I suggest you make us part of the conversation. We are all not impressed with the way things have been done so far. I have spent countless hours on this issue and could add much value to this process.

This is a community issue, not just a district issue. These are our children and we want to ensure they have a healthy future.



Jennifer deNicola

SMMUSD Board Meeting Update 2-6-14

SMMUSD Board Meeting Update 2-6-14

My humble report from the school board meeting:

The SMMUSD Board all agreed to fund the rest of the $4 million for district wide funding (DWF)(I believe $700K) Most board members were against allowing any schools to raise, what I will call, supplemental funds. They mentioned lack of participation from Malibu and that they had to stick to the rules they made. This seemed more about sending a message to the Malibu parents then putting the kids first.

Many wonderful Point Dume mom’s came to the meeting to speak about DWF, but left after 3 hours of waiting for their chance to share their thoughts with the board. When I addressed the board later, I asked the board to consider in the future, changing their agenda so that when parents show up at a board meeting, the board should prioritize hearing from the parents of their schools and not make them wait until the end. Let’s hope they consider this :)

I spoke to the board about the contract with the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC). I urged the board to direct the DTSC and ENVIRON to include input from all stakeholders in the entire process; planning, reveiwing, testing and remediation choices. The parents are the biggest stakeholders and we have a right to decide what acceptable level of safety we are comfortable with for our children. This has to be an open discussion for all of us that includes both fiscal responsibility and our choice of acceptable level of safety.

The DTSC contract was approved. Jan could not explain what the DTSC would exactly do since it was not outlined in the contract. Oscar de la Torres asked to get more details on the contract. He asked very good questions about next steps and urged the board to make sure they direct Environ and DTSC to do comprehensive testing, so we will know what we have to do to fix it. I had a chance to speak to him outside the board room and he said he supports our efforts and that he is in agreement that we have an opportunity to do the right thing in Malibu and be a good example for all schools across the country. This is good news!

Many contracts were approved that can be found in the agenda at

Lastly, Environ has not signed the contracts yet, so no assessment has begun. Also, I believe Best Practice Cleaning as recommended by the EPA, has also not begun yet by our MHS maintenance staff.

Please remember, as always, this update is from my memory and includes my opinions and perspective :)

Warm Regards,

EPA Requires Pre-1979 Caulk to be Removed

EPA Requires Pre-1979 Caulk to be Removed

Summary of the Jan 27th EPA message:

The message from the EPA is getting clearer. SMMUSD has deadlines it must reach by March 30th, 2014 that includes plans for removing all caulk with known concentrations above 50 ppm, mitigate or remove deteriorating caulk pre-1979, and test ALL rooms pre-1979. This will be a task for Environ once their contract is in place and they begin. As of this morning, Sandra Lyon said this is not completed.

Read More »

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!

Read More »

Together We are Strong

Together We are Strong

Dear Parents, Teachers and Community Members,

I wanted to thank all of you for the letters to encourage the district to add me to the panel. Your letters along with the teachers persistence at their Friday meeting convinced Sandra Lyon to allow me to sit on the panel to interview and hire the Environmental Engineering Firm EEF. These interviews are tomorrow, Monday, Jan 13, 2013. Please email me at, if you have any questions you would like me to try and ask at the interviews. I will check my email throughout the process.

Read More »