Needed:  Some Common Sense On The School Board!

The Portola High School Saga and a New Petition

Suppose you’re intent on buying a brand new house in a new development.  A few weeks before your escrow closes, you learn that your soon-to-be next door neighbor, after reading a story about contaminated property causing untold tragedy years later, becomes suspicious of her own property.

So, she decides to have the soil in her backyard tested, and discovers low concentrations of all sorts of carcinogenic and neurotoxic contaminants.  You then do some research and learn that the tract was formerly the site of an oil refinery that closed down some 50 years earlier.

Would you, as a matter of common sense, then require that the soil on your own prospective lot be similarly tested before escrow closes, or not?  Would you just believe government authorities who absurdly claim that since the contamination was not found on your own lot (obviously, because it was never tested) — and the levels found on your neighbor’s lot were “low” anyway, you’re “safe?”

To those who have followed the story of the contaminated Portola High School site over the past several years — hard to believe as it is — it followed a similar scenario.  The IUSD Board refused to have the 35-acre interior of the school site tested for the same carcinogenic and neurotoxic petrochemicals discovered along virtually its entire perimeter.  Remember, the Portola High School site is located on a former military airbase.

So, contrary to all common sense, and with absolutely no urgency to do so, in 2014, the School Board voted to close escrow on the site without having performed any further testing.

Finally, under public pressure, in 2016, the State reluctantly agreed to require some testing of the school site interior, to placate the public.  Although that testing was limited to 17 soil-gas test wells, it revealed that all 17 wells showed more of the same sort of contamination.

Amazingly, those results did not provoke further testing!  Testing was stopped.  The Portola High School opened in August, 2016. Without any supporting evidence, it was declared “safe.”

If you haven’t already done so, please sign the Safe Schools Petition at:

Safe-Schools-2 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.

[PARTIAL LIST OF SIGNATORIES] A Lee ▪ Aadra Lee ▪ Ahmed Zahran ▪ Albert Lee ▪ Alex Wang ▪ Alfred Newman ▪ Alfredo Perez ▪ Alice ▪ Alisa Kim ▪ Alysha Gosse ▪ An Tran ▪ Ana M ▪ Ana Tran ▪ Andy Ho ▪ Angie Chang ▪ Ann Chen ▪ Annette Bork ▪ Annette Bork ▪ Annette Buckel ▪ Annie Liu ▪ Aris Papayoanou ▪ Arthur Strauss, MD ▪ Ashtad Engineer ▪ Avram Grossman ▪ Barbara Siersma ▪ Beatrice Lieberman ▪ Bernadette Florencio ▪ Bindu Variam ▪ Bo Zhang ▪ Bo Zhao ▪ Brian Toorani ▪ C Lin ▪ Camille Dexter ▪ Charles Kang ▪ Chen He ▪ Chris Campbell ▪ Christina Johnston ▪ Cindy Davis ▪ Cynthia Bankston ▪ D Evans ▪ Danny Scruggs ▪ Darren Ito ▪ Debbie ▪ Debbie Herring ▪ Debra Richardson ▪ Delia G. Terry ▪ Diana Casillas ▪ Donna Zazueta ▪ Ed Lamphier ▪ Edith Castaneda Pelletan ▪ Eli Weinkle ▪ Enrique Viloria ▪ Erika Yoshizawa ▪ Ernestina Benson ▪ Fairy Jolini ▪ Farzan ▪ Fay Zheng ▪ Fred ▪ Fritzee Labrador ▪ Gail Lewis ▪ Galina Bukh ▪ Galina Bukh ▪ Gaurang Yodh ▪ Gerald Lee ▪ Glenda Menges ▪ Grace Lee ▪ Griffin Tamura ▪ Hadeel Ragab ▪ Harvey Liss ▪ Heather Hilario ▪ Henry Chiang ▪ Ina Tzvetanova ▪ Ira Lewis ▪ Isaias Lopez ▪ Jack Tatham ▪ Jacques Garnier ▪ Jacquie Madenburg ▪ James Lin ▪ Jamie Wilkinson ▪ Jane An ▪ Jason Liu ▪ Jean Anne Turner ▪ Jean Miller ▪ Jeffrey Ho ▪ Jennifer Assouad ▪ Jennifer Ho ▪ Jessica Sanchez ▪ Jessica Un ▪ Jill Berger ▪ Jing Chen ▪ Joe Sambito ▪ John C ▪ Jon Brownell ▪ Jonathan Li ▪ Jonny T. ▪ Jorge Meza ▪ Julia Chan ▪ Julie Hosokawa ▪ Jun ▪ Karen ▪ Karen Zfaty ▪ Karrie Scruggs ▪ Kathy Chang ▪ Kelly Harrigan ▪ Kelvin Xu ▪ Ken McEwan ▪ Kenny Geh ▪ Kevin Lien ▪ Kirsti ▪ Klotilda ▪ Kozue Larson ▪ Krista Barajas ▪ Kyung Park ▪ Larry Agran ▪ Laura Smith-Black ▪ Laura Thieme ▪ Laurie Crowe ▪ Lawrence O Seidman ▪ Linda Rife ▪ Liza Tilson ▪ Lorne Cheeseman ▪ Luana Foucart ▪ Lydia Liu ▪ Lynn Boutin ▪ Manal Galal ▪ Marcia Spater ▪ Marjorie McIntyre ▪ Mark McIntyre ▪ Martha C Clay ▪ Melissa Roeder ▪ Mertis Shearry ▪ Michele Garcia-Jurado ▪ Michelle ▪ Michelle Ng ▪ Minhchau Pham ▪ Miriam Khurgel ▪ Mojgan Moghadam ▪ Monica Lee ▪ Monica Trivedi ▪ P. Pawley ▪ Paige Wiseman ▪ Pat Kennedy ▪ Payam Larijani ▪ Phyllis Gilmore ▪ Prathima Venkatesan ▪ Rakesh Bhatia ▪ Reza ▪ Richard Ramirez ▪ Robin Greenberg ▪ Robin Weirich ▪ Rosemary St. John ▪ Russell Corrie ▪ Ruth Kim ▪ Sally ▪ Sam Pawley ▪ Samantha Meza ▪ Sandhya Nair ▪ Sasha Wu ▪ Scarlett Teats ▪ Shanene Vaca ▪ Shelley Harriger ▪ Sherry Mao ▪ Sophia ▪ Steven Harlow ▪ Steven Newman ▪ Sudha Ati ▪ Sumera Iqbal ▪ Susan Bernatowicz ▪ Susan Morrissey ▪ Susan Sayre ▪ Susie Rausavljevich ▪ T. K. McCranie ▪ Thao Pham ▪ Tom L Casey ▪ Tracie Jimenez ▪ Veronica Tamura ▪ Waki Taki ▪ Yoon Kim ▪ Yun-I Liu

Harvey H. Liss

Harvey H. Liss

Harvey H. Liss, a former Irvine Planning Commissioner, holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics and is a California Licensed Civil Engineer. Dr. Liss is a longtime resident of Woodbridge, the iconic Irvine village he helped design in the 1970s. He now reports for ICNV on environmental issues.
Harvey H. Liss