From: Harvey Liss []
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 5:14 PM
To: ‘Terry Walker’
Cc:;;; ‘Sharon Wallin’;;;;
Subject: Request to agendize an item for the next IUSD Board meeting on May 24th
Attached:  Lab Data Portola High.pdf  Soil-gas test well results.pdf   Soil-gas test well results.xlsx  Sampling map

Dear Superintendent Walker:

  1. I, Harvey Liss, 12 Birdsong, Irvine CA 92604,, cell 949-836-2225, representing, hereby request adding an item to the Board Agenda with the following topic:
  2. Topic Title: Discussion of Portola High School (PHS) soil-gas testing results and scheduled opening of school
  3. Meeting Date Requested: Since PHS staff is scheduled to move in to PHS in June, and students are expected to enter in August, 2016, time is of the essence in scheduling this discussion.  As such, I’m requesting this discussion to be agendized for the next IUSD Board Meeting, on May 24, 2016.
  4. I am requesting:

a) an open discussion of the soil-gas sample testing results as they relate to the need for further testing to meet the requirements of the March 2nd letter from DTSC Director Lee and CalEPA Secretary Rodriquez; and,

b) that the Board postpone the opening of PHS until the Board, Superintendent and Public can determine that the school site is safe.

The first attachment is a .pdf document containing the results of the soil-gas testing performed between March 28 and April 12, in two sets.
The second and third attachments are a .pdf and a Microsoft .xlsx spreadsheet that I created of all the soil-gas tests in an easy-to-read format on three pages.

6. BACKGROUND: The March 2nd letter to the IUSD states: “Soil gas sampling during the Supplemental Site Investigation found low levels of volatile organic compounds, specifically tetrachloroethane (PCE) [also known as tetrachloroethylene], trichloroethene (TCE) [also known as trichloroethylene], benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX).  The origin of the PCE and TCE is unknown and cannot be attributable to known past operations at the property, as indicated in the Preliminary Environmental Assessment.  The origin of the BTEX may be attributable to the former pipeline at the property.  Therefore, further soil-gas testing is warranted to determine the source of those contaminants.” [emphasis added]

The soil-gas test results show that ALL 17 soil-gas test wells had detectable levels of various combinations of those VOCs listed above.  Therefore, according to Dot Lofstrom’s numerical assignment, they are all at #1, detectable, but low.  So, if the levels are detectable, what do you do next?  You have to find the source?  The source could be at a spot right under the middle of the school building, with much higher concentrations.

For an example that happened on the PHS site, you should know that one naphthalene-contaminated soil sample (out of the more than 900 cubic yards removed) submitted for testing from the soil removed from the storm drain trench along Irvine Boulevard was at 92% of the Regional Screening Level (RSL).  It seems logical that if one really wanted to determine the extent of that contamination, one would take more samples nearby to see if another sample would be, maybe, at 103% of the RSL.  That tiny difference, according to the law would make ALL the difference, although practically, there is no difference.  That soil should not have been classified as non-hazardous.  That was an affront to good sense and to public safety.  Further, regarding claims of transparency, the quantity removed was only revealed after my CA Public Records Act Request.  And the lab reports were only sent to the DTSC after I requested them from the DTSC, months after they were prepared, so the DTSC could not weigh in on those test results, since they didn’t have them at the time.

A discussion is also required to explain why so many of the soil-gas tests taken a week after the first set of tests showed non-detectable for many of the gases detected a week earlier.  Is that second set meaningful?

Superintendent Walker stated at 3h45m45s into the March 22nd Board Meeting:  “And none of us will sleep unless there’s 100% confidence in the site.”  Boardmember Lauren Brooks stated at 3h41m: “Our first priority is those kids.

7) STYLE OF DISCUSSION: I’m requesting that there be an open discussion, as mentioned in the March 2nd letter, between the public, (including me), representing, IUSD staff and Board members, and any other people IUSD wishes to participate.  There should be a “question and answer” style of discourse between the public and anyone the IUSD Board wishes to represent the IUSD.  In effect, this would be a discussion in which the public’s questions are answered, and further questioning is permitted to further clarify those answers, in a back-and-forth style. This will not only be helpful to the public, but it would meet the requirements as set forth in the March 2nd

Harvey H. Liss, P.E., Ph.D.
Irvine CA 92604

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