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Jennifer Elkins | Landfill Making School Stink

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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Landfill odors were so horrible at Live Oak Elementary School and throughout Castaic this morning! 

I typically drop my kids off at the park gate on Quincy Street, but the air was so bad that I drove my kids to the front of the school. I wanted to make sure school staff was reporting to the Air Quality Management District and that the kids were being protected. I was happy to hear that all students were being taken to the multipurpose room this morning and kept inside due to the odors. 

However, office staff had informed me that they had not called AQMD to report the odors and were watching the air monitors, which all had “good” readings. The air monitors read particulate matter, but not volatile organic compounds. I left disappointed, contemplating if I should pull my kids from school for the day. 

I emailed Mr. (Antonio) Sanchez, the principal at Live Oak, and Mr. (Bob) Brauneisen, the superintendent for Castaic Union School District. Both replied quickly to my emails. Mr. Brauneisen said he had called the school to find out what was happening and was told that they called AQMD first thing this morning, which was a different story than what I was told.  

Mr. Sanchez called me to get my story as well. Clearly there was some sort of miscommunication. Mr. Sanchez assured me that the school had confirmed the odors with AQMD this morning around 8:30 a.m., and going forward, the school would be reporting odors to AQMD daily if needed.  

I am pleased to see the principal at Live Oak and the superintendent taking action on this matter. They have attended community meetings, gaining knowledge and understanding for how serious and important this issue is for not only the students, but also for our community as a whole. I do see them taking proactive measures to protect our children and their staff. Mr. Brauneisen is researching the best air monitoring systems and air filters and plans to have them installed at every school. He has put air purifiers and updated the filters for HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems in every room at the schools. He has been working closely with state and federal agencies to find the best solutions for our schools.  

Mr. Sanchez has been working hard to educate himself and his staff on best practices and protocols to protect students and staff from odors and poor air quality. He has been responsive to parents’ concerns and promptly addresses any issues that arise. 

Still, as parents, we have to consider on a day-to-day basis whether our kids are safest in school or at home. It’s a struggle because we all want what’s best for our children. We want our children to have a good education, healthy social life, and stay physically active. But all of this is difficult to do when we are burdened with the toxic air from Chiquita Canyon Landfill. Parents then have to prioritize their children’s physical and mental health over their education. How can they learn when they are distracted by the noxious odors?  

The schools are trying. They really are. We need to continue to work together as a community, keep each other educated and informed, keep each other as safe as possible, and fight against the abuse we have suffered from the landfill and L.A. County. We shouldn’t have to pay for THEIR mistakes. 

Jennifer Elkins

Castaic

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