Parents, Students and Community members jam packed The West Oakland Community Center to get a update on the status of McClymonds High School’s campus temporary closure due to a recently found contaminant called trichloroethylene, or (TCE) for short, underneath the school site in its ground water.
The complete video is here, with the Mayor, Councilmember McElhaney, health officials and the public questions.
The City, OUSD and partners decided to hold a town hall with the community to dispel myths and deliver factual science data for the people living near McClymonds.
The energy was tense and everyone wanted answers from their city and district officials.
A pair of students were diagnosed with cancer while attending Mcclymonds so some parents wanted to know if that chemical compound could have had any role with impacting the health of them and potentially other student’s, parents and staff of the site.
Parents at the town hall said they were scared and worried about how long the chemical was there and what it has meant for students. They also wanted to know if the school will be permanently affected and potentially shut down.
The chemical was also found a few feet away from the schools garden, which raised plants and vegetables the school also used to make smoothies and other treats. The initial report states none of the chemicals below the ground were exposed to the garden.
Community members seemed to be apprehensive about the information presented at the town hall meeting. This comes on the heels of a discovery in 2016 that found lead in the tap water on that very site. In 2016 they found high levels of heavy metals in the gym showers and faucets throughout the school.
It’s safe to say the McClymonds campus was not properly maintenance over a number of years and decades and the community has reached a boiling point around the reality that another health related issue is once again happening on this site.
That lead to some heated exchanges between parents and community members who felt the city and OUSD were not being on the up and up with the decision to close McClymonds temporality and the overall impact it might have on the health of the community.
The initial findings found the containment’s were 3 feet below the surface underground with no chemical vapors being exposed in the air on McClymonds school site. However more test are being done currently on air and ground quality in regards to the TCE chemical so a update will be issued with a concrete answer in the near future.
You can read more about some of the historic causes for the contamination here, which basically are around environmental racism.