Mr. Eric Gutierrez
Office of Public and Consumer Affairs
(310) 478-3711 Ext. XXXX
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Thanks for calling yesterday offering to provide information, presumably relating to our recent coverage in the LA Weekly and EnviroReporter.com. You included your e-mail address in order to facilitate our asking questions which we appreciate.
We are encouraged that the VA is using this opportunity to let us ask a few questions. Please feel free to answer the questions in any form, including writing the answers after each question in reply. Also, it would be helpful to know who is actually answering the questions or requests for comment for identification purposes when possible.
- We see the gravestones have been removed. Can you tell us when that occurred in the last few days?
- Who removed them?
- How many were found, if you know?
- Did you folks take photos of the removal?
- If so, can we see some of those photos?
- Does VA plan to excavate further to remove more tombstones before they emerge from the soil like these ones did? (This question is based on the 1971 photograph of a truck dumping debris that matches the debris the tombstones were found in as well as the debris being dumped in the same spot. See the online LA Weekly article or this page for photo.)
- Does the VA plan any investigation into how these Veterans’ tombstones were dumped there?
- Would the VA make a statement regarding these tombstones and how VA reacted quickly to remove them?
- Does the VA have concerns that the area where the tombstones were dumped is unregulated debris including rebar, concrete, construction waste and possibly more headstones? If so, what is the VA going to do about it and when?
- Does VA have engineering reports that show that this hillside of debris is properly engineered against erosion and other hazards as it supports a public athletic field above?
Regarding the Phase Two testing:
- This testing was first scheduled for February 2007 and then spring of 2008. What was the delay?
- Rep. Waxman’s office says he was informed of the testing in September. Did VA notify anyone else of the testing? If so, who?
- What are the Phase Two testing plans?
- Can you give us a copy of the detailed plans for coring and any other activities contemplated under the Phase Two testing?
- Who is the contractor in charge of the Phase Two coring?
- Why has the coring taken place largely in an area where 5,000 truckloads of inert fill were dumped in the Eastern Arroyo?
- Will Phase Two testing include the center of the known dump including parts of the Barrington Dog Park and Barrington Recreational Center baseball fields?
- Where will the samples be sent for testing?
- What will the laboratory test the samples for, specifically?
- Has the testing concluded?
- If not, how long is it expected to take and what other areas may be cored that haven’t been yet?
- If more testing is planned, assuming the coring has stopped, where would it take place and when?
- Has the VA considered state-of-the-art subsurface scanning technology to look for anomalies under the ground in the known dump areas?
- Will the Phase Two testing, or any other anticipated testing, include the crescent-shaped mound in the dump that the VA’s Ben Spivey told me in 2006 contained biomedical waste from the excavation of Brentwood School’s field’s?
- Will the Phase Two testing, or any other anticipated testing, include the excavation of the row of mounds that may contain biomedical debris unearthed from building the drain on top of the hill from the dog park which happens to go through one of the known nuclear dumping areas?
- Has any of the Phase One testing report data been included in the Phase Two plan and if yes, which data?
- Phase Two testing seemed to bypass the red marking flags that Phase One had placed in 2006 to note areas of high radiation. Has the Phase Two testing utilized these flags for locations to test?
- What EPA-approved scientific protocols are being utilized in the Phase Two coring of the site?
- The Phase One testing missed large areas that the contractors Millennium Consulting Associates said they would cover as noted in our Phase One Report Analysis. Will the Phase Two testing cover these areas, specifically the areas of known dumping as shown on VA maps?
- The Phase One report said that “The average readings for the East Arroyo, West Arroyo and the Brentwood School lower soccer fields were notably above” control areas with natural levels of radiation. Millennium recommended further investigation, citing “strong concern by members of the community,” historical documentation of dumping, and radiation detected by the contractor.
- Will Phase Two follow these recommendations?
- Will the VA be testing any areas on the Brentwood School shared lease property?
- What is the VA doing to keep legislators and the public abreast of the Phase Two testing?
- Will the Phase Two testing results be available to legislators and the public?
- Will the VA hold a public meeting to discuss the results of the Phase Two testing?
Erik, I realize that these questions will take time to answer but we hope expeditiously. More time sensitive is whether Phase Two testing is continuing or if it has been completed. We appreciate this opportunity to ask the VA these questions and look forward to its responses.
& LA Weekly