Malibu Unites requests independent oversight to work in collaboration with district

March 20, 2014

Dear SMMUSD Board Members and Sandra Lyons:

As you now know the Malibu community has come together to form a cohesive organization, which has unified our voice with over 600 members and counting. Malibu Unites is a coalition of parents, teachers, students, community members, public figures, scientists, medical experts, and environmental organizations to stand united and together to ensure our schools are healthy, clean and safe for our children and those that educate them. We welcome everyone with a common goal to stand with us.

We are very encouraged by Sandra Lyons’s statements in her weekly update ending March 19th, 2014. This update states Environ’s testing plan will include soil testing at both Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo Elementary Schools, as the community has repeatedly requested

We were gratified to read Sandra’s promise in this most recent letter that the Malibu community will have significant involvement as we move forward to address the contamination issue.  We agree that community involvement in the ongoing testing is important.  We will never be able to remove the cloud of suspicion and concern that surrounds the campus, unless people trust the results of the testing and people trust the results of the remediation.

The District cannot expect to achieve that trust unless the testing and the remediation are transparent and verifiable.  To that end, Malibu Unites proposes the following:

    1. Our organization will hire a preeminent EPA and DOD superfund assessment and remediation contractor. We are asking that our contractor be permitted to work along side the district, DTSC, and the EPA to formulate a work plan that will include comprehensive soil, water, air, and dust testing at all three Malibu campuses. We are requesting that the district set aside a small fund for this purpose. We do not believe the district requires the expense of a third layer of its own oversight, and a portion of these funds allocated to the community’s oversight will be much better served.
    2. Our Environmental expert should have the permission to accompany Environ on location and to have meaningful input on testing protocols.
    3. We request our own expert to receive split sample testing for independent testing. Test samples must be sent to a separate but accredited lab that Environ is not utilizing. In addition, our expert must be able to review all environmental reports and raw data in real time with Environ, the DTSC and the EPA. I know the School District will join us in approving a process that insures transparency and honesty.
    4. Finally we also know that the School district will join us in implementing the precautionary principle of a “No Risk Policy” as has been done in several school districts, including Paramus, New Jersey. Remediation work must be done with NO ONE on the MHS campus. The Precautionary Principle means that when there is a suspected risk, we assume harm,  err on the side of caution, and act accordingly.


While we all hope that the DTSC and the EPA will put our children’s best interests above public policy, the past actions of regulatory agencies have cast significant doubt.  The District’s perceived interest in minimizing its financial exposure also casts doubt. The current process, by which the community and parents must verify the accuracy of the District’s work, will create a stigma that will taint the campus for years to come.  It is in everyone’s best interest to remove that stigma, which can only occur if the affected community can verify the results of the testing and remediation with their own expert.

Malibu Unites is not concerned about messaging or control of information. We want scientific facts and truth so that we can trust that the extent of the contamination has been identified and effectively remediated. All of us look forward to being on the other side of this issue with confidence that our schools are healthy, clean and safe.


Jennifer deNicola

Malibu Unites, President