OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Angry West Oakland residents attended a town hall meeting demanding answers but leaving with more questions as McClymonds High School remains closed after tests revealed a high level of a carcinogen on campus.
West Oakland residents have one main concern: how bad and how far has the contamination, found in groundwater last week, spread into their community?
Kim Griffin has pulled her daughter from an elementary school located right next to McClymonds, where health officials found high levels of the carcinogen trichloroethylene, or TCE.
Griffin feels she’s not getting all the information on what’s going on.
“You basically shutting us off, you can’t shut us off, this is our s***. You got to give us some answers, they ain’t giving us no answers,” Griffin said at the meeting.
In search for those answers, the Oakland Unified School District has teamed up with Alameda County as well as state agencies to test the level of contamination. Nearly 200 samples were taken from the school with Summa canisters and sent out to a state lab. The results are not expected back for a couple of weeks.
“I believe we should not have to wait until all the testing is done. We have to start right now taking protective measure for people health,” said Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf.
Last week, TCE was found in the groundwater, which maybe coming from a nearby business. The concern is the chemical has evaporated into the air. The district emphasizes TCE is not in the drinking water, but there’s fear in the community as they wonder how all of this may have affected the kids.
“I just pray that we haven’t done harm to our young people that can’t be undone,” said Karen Todd, a former McClymonds High principal.
As for McClymonds, it will not open at least until the week of March 9, when the test results are expected to return.