McClymonds High School: Preliminary air test results show no cancer-causing chemicals on Oakland campus

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Monday, February 24, 2020
Preliminary air test at Oakland's McClymonds High School's show no harmful chemicals
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McClymonds High School in Oakland was shut down after a cancer-causing chemical was found in nearby groundwater. Environmental health officials took air samples throughout the school and preliminary test results show no indication of TCE.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Air and soil testing was underway at Oakland's McClymonds High School on Saturday after a cancer-causing chemical was found in nearby groundwater.

Preliminary results show no indication that TCE (trichloroethylene) seeped into classrooms and other buildings, the district said.

"There is no indication of TCE (trichloroethylene) in any of the areas we have tested so far," said Cheryl Prowell from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Experts in toxic materials and environmental health took dozens of air samples throughout the school buildings and used a special piece of equipment where the test results could be seen within minutes.

RELATED: Oakland's McClymonds High School closed for chemical testing

Prowell added that they didn't expect to see TCE in the air on campus.

"Based on the groundwater results, high concentrations in indoor air would be unlikely but we wanted to use caution and check."

Officials say the air was being tested in about 50 locations from the boys' locker room to the boiler room on McClymonds campus which is closest to the groundwater, 10 to 15 feet below the ground.

In fear that the chemical was related to the drinking water, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) released this statement saying there is no relationship whatsoever:

"There are news reports of contaminated groundwater at McClymonds High school near the site of an old fuel tank that has been removed. There is NO threat to EBMUD drinking water, which is sourced from the Mokelumne River and Pardee Reservoir in the Sierra foothills. Groundwater is not our source. In the area by the school, TCE would not be able to enter our pressurized water distribution system. If customers are interested in learning more about their water quality, they can see our Annual Water Quality Report here:"

RELATED: McClymonds High School chemical scare: District searching for space to hold classes

"I am encouraged by today's preliminary test results, and I hope the final testing shows the same results. We are being vigilant about protecting our school community, which is why I decided we should close McClymonds while we did the testing," said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. "We are also concerned about our neighbors around McClymonds, as any TCE or other toxic chemicals in the area can cause problems for the residents. The West Oakland community is unfortunately an area that has far too many sites with toxic substances."

Classes were abruptly canceled last week for the 350 students who attend McClymonds. The district is eyeing several other sites nearby to hold classes temporarily starting this week.

Oakland Unified School District says McClymonds High school will remain closed until Monday, Feb. 24 and the district hopes to work on plans to have students back in class on Tuesday or Wednesday with locations still to be determined.