Portola High School Site Testing Update

In Superintendent Terry Walker’s last communication to the IUSD community about the Portola High School site, he shared that test results and data will be made available to the public and all interested parties in mid-to-late May.  As part of IUSD’s ongoing commitment to transparency, the following is an update about the testing and lab results.  While the District is waiting for the final report to be completed, it appears this third series of tests confirms the 2014 and 2015 site approvals granted by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

However, the District will not know conclusively, until the DTSC has reviewed the data and made its own determination.  We anticipate this information in the coming weeks and will communicate with the community at that time.

Below are three potential “outcomes” of the confirmation soil sampling as detailed on March 22 by DTSC Division Chief Dot Lofstrom during a Special Board Meeting.  She explained that “Outcome Two” is the current status of the site and that if the testing supports the current status, no further action would be required of IUSD.  She stated:

Outcome One

“One outcome is that all samples come back non-detect.  That means that no contaminants were discovered above the capabilities of our laboratory instruments to detect them.  In that case, the concerns described by me tonight would have been met by the District and no further action will be requested of the School District.”

Outcome Two

“A second outcome might be that contaminants are discovered but at very low concentrations.  So low as to constitute no health risk to occupants of the school.  That’s the current status of the site – our current conceptual model that there are very low concentrations of some contaminants – scattered areas underground.  These contaminants that do exist are sometimes as low as 600 times below the health concentrations, so I’m talking very low concentrations.

A few scattered concentrations of low level contaminants would confirm the current conceptual site model that there is no risk to future occupants of the school.  Very low levels of contaminants in the soil do not trigger cleanup requirements, because walking or running on a field, playing on the ground, or sitting inside rooms with concrete floors and walls do not result in any exposures that are a health concern.

In this case again, the concerns of DTSC would have been met and no further action will be requested of the School District.”

Outcome Three

“There is a third outcome that is contaminants are present and at sufficiently high concentrations to have possible health impacts.  In that case, additional investigation will be required of the District.”

To view a video of Chief Lofstrom’s presentation during the March 22 public meeting, click here.

IUSD is cautiously optimistic that DTSC will concur that the site meets “Outcome Two” and this will provide the public with confidence that all standards, protocols and procedures set by the DTSC have been met by IUSD to ensure the site’s safety.

Once completed, the final report, including the raw data, will be posted on iusd.org/portolaconstruction.  In the meantime, please visit the Portola webpage for a history of the site, site approvals, resources and correspondence.