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Open Forum: February 2017


Sign the Irvine Safe Schools Petition!

Dear Readers:

As the founding publisher of Irvine Community News & Views, I am very proud of the work of our science writer and investigative journalist, Dr. Harvey Liss.

Dr. Liss, who holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics, has doggedly researched and documented the scandalous failure of IUSD and the City of Irvine to properly test for toxic petrochemical contamination at the site of Portola High School, Irvine’s newest high school.

Finally, with the insistence of hundreds and hundreds of Irvine citizens, last year — belatedly — soil-gas testing for toxic petrochemical contamination was performed.  As Dr. Liss  has reported (see page 13), all 17 soil-gas test wells turned up varying levels of toluene (a dangerous neurotoxicant), as well as various combinations of other toxic petrochemicals, including benzene (a potent carcinogen) and benzene derivatives.

This should have immediately spurred more testing, including indoor air testing, to see if toxic vapors are intruding into school buildings where teachers, staff and students may be at risk of exposure.

That IUSD and the City of Irvine have not conducted such tests is truly scandalous…as well as dangerous.   We are urging you to add your name to our new, online  petition, which can be found at:


Safe Schools Petition

     We, the undersigned, call upon the Irvine School Board and the Irvine City Council to conduct comprehensive, independent and conscientious testing of the Portola High School site — both site-wide soil-gas testing and continuous air monitoring inside the buildings — for toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs, such as benzene, benzene derivatives, and toluene) that have already been found in previous, limited tests on the 40-acre site.

     This renewed and expanded testing, along with aggressive remediation efforts, can help ensure that the Portola High School site is — and always will be — a safe site for teachers,
staff, students, and the entire Irvine community.

Hundreds of concerned Irvine citizens have already signed this second online petition.  Many have offered their comments — and many of those comments are re-printed in this Open Forum & Community Voices section of Irvine Community News & Views.  Please read what your Irvine neighbors have written.  Then, if you haven’t done so already, please add your name to this important petition.


Petition Comments

  •    Shame on the Irvine School District!

Jessica Sanchez

  •    The Irvine Unified School District and Irvine City Council need to further study the toxic levels of contaminants at Portola High School — relying on independent, highly qualified professional scientists — in order to safeguard the health of our students, families, educators, and citizens of our City.  The health of our citizens is in jeopardy if further studies are not conducted.

Martha C. Clay

  •    This location [Portola High School and surrounding areas] has been polluted for nearly 100 years with military petrochemicals.

Steven Newman

  •   I live across the street in the Portola Court Apartments.  I have a 15-year-old son and want to know if toxins are in our area.

Laurie Crowe

  •    I am a resident of Irvine, and I want to ensure that each and every school in Irvine is safe for all kids.  The new Portola High School has been “toxic” news for a long while now, due to the site’s previous use as part of a military base.  I believe it should be a “no-brainer” to conduct as many detailed toxicology tests as possible to ensure that the kids in the high school are able to receive a wonderful education and remain healthy.  We also want our teachers to stay healthy and continue providing their students the “one-of-a-kind” Irvine education.

Bindu Variam

  •    The health of our children, teachers, and staff at Portola High School is more important than anything else.  Please continue to look into the matter and take the right steps.

Sudha Ati

  •    Our children are more important than profits.

Krista Barajas

  •  It’s better to be safe.  Our children are the future, and if we want Irvine to succeed, testing should be done until we’re sure the site is 100 percent free of toxics.  Otherwise, we can go elsewhere — to a cleaner and better environment.

Edith Castaneda Pelletan

  •    A school site containing toxic contamination is not acceptable — it must be fully tested.

Bo Zhao

  •    We parents need to be assured that the Portola High School site is 100 percent safe for our students, teachers and staff.  There should be zero tolerance when it comes to threats to environmental safety.

Sherry Mao 

  •    The school needs to close immediately!

Ina Tzvetanova

  •    Do not do this 2 our children.  They R all God’s children….Thank U.  God will bless U all 4 EAE.

Rosemary St. John

  •    The tests must be completed.

Jon Brownell

  •    It is beyond belief that Councilmember Christina Shea and her greedy cohorts sold their souls — ignoring all the warnings of former Councilmembers Larry Agran and Beth Krom BEFORE the Portola High School site was chosen.  And now it’s late to start cleaning up a huge site with a school on top of it.  I am very frightened for this community and the teachers and children involved.

Liza Tilson

  •    Is the School Board waiting for reports of student or faculty illness to test the Portola site?  It is unconscionable to allow Irvine residents to be exposed to possible contamination.  I say this to the School Board:  ACT to protect and safeguard the health of our residents!  It is your duty and a moral obligation.

Michele Garcia-Jurado

  •    At one time it would have been unimaginable that the reputation of our fine City could be sullied as it has been by such deliberate, prideful resistance to doing what is prudent.  Whether motivated politically or financially, the refusal of the IUSD Board, the Irvine Teachers Association and the City Council to demand and then work together to be sure that every safeguard is taken to ensure the health and safety of students and staff through avoidance of exposure to known toxic chemicals is nothing short of reprehensible.  In addition to incalculable personal suffering, this willful neglect could result in ongoing financial burdens to Irvine taxpayers should illnesses arise and lawsuits be filed.

Jean Anne Turner

  •    I am so glad my children are grown and living outside of Irvine.  We would have to move, rather than send them to Portola High School.

Pat Kennedy

  •    The health and safety of our children should not be in question while they are at school.

Eli Weinkle

  •    Dear City of Irvine officials:  Please hire a non-biased third party to perform all tests; and publish it all online to be done with this once and for all.

Monica Lee

  •    It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Kenny Geh

  •    Independent testing for the Portola High School area is necessary.  Do not delay this testing as the safety of school children and staff are at risk.

Jean Miller

  •    Thank you ICNV for watching out for our children, teachers, and staff!  Greedy developers and corrupt City Councilmembers should have never approved this toxic land!

Payam Larijani

  •    I cannot let my kids attend a school that is suspected of toxic contamination.  I didn’t spend as much as I have on a house to then have my kids go to a school that contains toxins.

Galina Bukh

  •    I was working for the U.S. Navy in Point Loma when dumping of toxic materials was planned for the El Toro base.  It doesn’t take a petrochemical engineer to figure out that if you dump toxic substances, they will be there to haunt you years later.

Avram Grossman

  •    Please conduct more tests!  We need to know!

Julie Hosokawa

  •    Consider the health of all who may be exposed to toxicity.

Annette Bork

  •    Environmental safety cannot be compromised, especially for our kids!  Please conduct thorough testing to prove declared safety!

Kelvin Xu

  •    It is unthinkable that our children are not being safeguarded in a City such as Irvine!

Debbie Herring

  •    Please perform all necessary testing to ensure the school is safe for all our children.

Ahmed Zahran

  •   We need to make sure our kids are in a healthy, clean and safe environment.

Hadeel Ragab

  •    Since the high school site was not thoroughly tested prior to construction, it must be tested now to insure the safety of all that attend Portola High School, whether it be students, faculty or other staff members.

Ira Lewis

  •    As most folks know, children are our most important resource.  Placement of children in a toxic environment indicates that the decision-makers have no interest in the well-being of our most important resource — our children.  Do the right thing.

Richard Ramirez

  •    I call for renewed and expanded testing!

Rakesh Bhatia

  •    It is obvious further testing MUST be done for the safety of all!

Robin Greenberg

  •    The City of Irvine and the State of California have the duty and responsibility to ensure that the Portola High School site is, and will always be, a safe site for teachers, staff and students, not to mention the members of the entire Irvine community and all visitors to our community.

Susan Sayre

  •    We need complete testing!

Bo Zhang

  •    The situation calls for additional testing, and obtaining additional information and suggestions from relevant experts.

Aris Papayoanou

  •    Let’s make sure our children are not in a toxic environment.  The excuse that the benzene derivatives were caused by recycled water just doesn’t hold true.  Please do the comprehensive testing, and let’s make sure the site is safe.

Gail Lewis

  •    I would like my kids to be safe.

Albert Lee

  •    I’ve always been against this school site until complete test analyses were available.  It seems that money pushed the agenda for the Portola High School site, when other sites were available.  Where do I send my children to school now?

Mark McIntyre

  •    Let’s do complete testing.

Lawrence O. Seidman

  •    We still don’t know the long-term effects for not only the students, but school employees as well.  This area needs to be tested again!

Jamie Wilkinson


Franklin J. Lunding


Irvine, CA
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