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Exclusive 2019 Update: VICTORY AT THE VA – West LA Veterans Administration master plan protects old nuclear dump from development

This web page displays notes of the pertinent passages of this 48-page document, which comprises the Sharing Agreement between the VA and Brentwood School, along with snippets of certain pages.

P. 3/48:

$1 million general liability “combined single limit for bodily injury.”

P. 4/48:

No limit on Brentwood School coverage required for VA personnel on shared property.

P. 7-8/48:

VA held harmless for Brentwood School “wrongful or negligent conduct.”

This agreement was signed by Brentwood School’s Don Winter and the VA’s Ralph Tillman as the following snippet shows as well.

“I think that there were people in the community, I guess, that apparently made it their business to know the history of the VA and so on,” Don Winter, noted above, said in a November 28, 2005 interview with EnviroReporter.com. “They heard we were thinking about the project and they, I don’t remember their name. I do know that when we were informed about this, we raised questions about it as we were thinking about the possibility of having a sharing agreement that we didn’t want to get in a situation that would in any way jeopardize the students and participants on the fields. So as I recall now – we raised the question with the VA people and were informed about the location of the radioactive material. And because it’s so well known as to its location, it’s not underneath the athletic complex that we built. Maybe [the VA] just got confused.”

“If any of that had been underneath the field, you can be assured that we would have had a whole different attitude about the project, I can tell you that,” Winter continued. “We would have been very, very leery about proceeding.”

“When our fields were being constructed, there was a site that contained some containers of what you would call medical waste,” Winter said in an interview conducted the next day. “It was not radioactive. It was stuff like syringes, test tubes, pans, containers of one kind or another that were in other containers. When those were uncovered, which wasn’t very much of it, those were the things that were taken away. There was a person monitoring this whole process, an environmental technician of some kind that the VA hired as I recall. We were very assured by this process—this person would follow the bulldozers around and he instructed the operators that if anything were encountered, they thought he ought to look at, why they’d stop and bring him over and he would look at it. They found bed springs and trunks of trees in addition to this so-called medical wastes stuff. All of that stuff was taken off the site. Anything that was a trash nature, medical waste or otherwise.”

As this document will show, Brentwood School was supposed to be involved in every aspect of the construction of its athletic fields, including the disposition of any wastes during excavation activities. Winter’s preceding statements don’t seem to jibe with reports that at one point during construction of the drain underneath the lower football field, workers encountered so much bio-medical waste, including used syringes, that they stopped work until it was decided to not excavate the debris, but to dump crushed asphalt over it and proceed with laying the drainage pipe as we have reported on in “Nuke ‘Em High.”

“When it says here on page 64, ‘the biomedical, radioactive medical waste and ACM containing construction debris waste sites are all now buried under 15′ to 30′ of fill material areas leased to the Brentwood School for use as athletic fields,’ that’s not true,” Winter continued. “There’s no radioactive medical waste in areas leased to Brentwood School.”

It would appear puzzling that Winter would feel confident to make the preceding statement when he was he was wrong about “all of that [bio-medical waste] stuff” was taken off site when it appears not to have been.

The debris that was taken off site was not completely removed from West LA VA property either, according to the VA’s Ben Spivey, in an interview in January 2006. A large crescent-shaped pile in the center of the dump is associated with excavation activities of the school’s athletic fields. This mound radiates above normal background levels and is where EnviroReporter.com found radioactive glass and a ‘hot’ syringe.

“The sale or consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited on the Shared Property” is a rule that the school has apparently forgotten according to information on the its website and in its newspaper.

According to the February 1, 2007 issue of the school’s Eagles Nest News, the 2nd Annual Parents’ Dance was to take place in the East Campus gym, which is located on the VA’s Shared Property and included “a great BBQ dinner complete with adult beverages (thanks to the Goldfarb family).”

On another occasion in the East Gym, at the All-Alumni Family BBQ featuring In-N-Out Burger, alcohol was served again as evidenced by the following photo which shows Sierra Nevada and Corona beers being quaffed by Brentwood School parents on VA property.

So what’s the big deal with bending the rules and drinking alcohol on VA property? The answer to that is multi-faceted but raises hackles with Veterans as they have fought wine festivals sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and other alcohol-supplied events at the West LA VA. Simply put, it is strictly prohibited to sell or drink alcohol on the West LA VA for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the campus is supposed to serve our soldiers, many whom have alcohol and substance abuse problems and seek help from the VA in overcoming them.

That Brentwood School allows the consumption of alcohol on the Shared Property also speaks to character and honesty, traits the school emphasizes repeatedly in its exhortations of itself.

By breaking these rules that the school literally signed off on, it creates a troubling situation when a reporter is trying to ferret out the truth about radioactive and chemical contaminants buried under the school’s athletic fields and complex since school officials maintain, in a variety of ways, that none were ever buried there let alone are there now.

When school officials tell the parents of the school that the VA and PricewaterhouseCoopers have both publicly disavowed the report of radioactive waste, or waste of any kind, being buried under the fields, despite evidence in these Waxman-supplied documents to the contrary, it adds to doubts as to the school’s veracity.

One of the main reasons that EnviroReporter.com was created in the first place was to show doubters of our Brentwood nuke dump investigation the solid evidence that makes up this body of work, regardless of the trustworthiness of the folks we’ve interviewed. With that in mind, one photograph EnviroReporter.com acquired clearly shows Brentwood School alumni drinking alcohol on Shared Property of the VA.

P. 21/48:

The operative phrase in the below snippet is the following contractual sentence that seems to suggest that any radioactive and/or chemical waste contaminating soon-to-be Brentwood School fields is the problem of the school and not the VA.

“However, assuming the Sharing Partner decides to proceed, the Sharing Partner shall be deemed to have inspected and known the condition of the Shared Property, and understands that the same is hereby shared without any representations or warranty by the Government whatsoever and without obligation on the part of the Government to make any alterations, repairs, or additions thereto, prior to occupancy by Sharing Partner.”

P. 22/48:

The following snippet, which includes the below contractual sentences, makes clear that Brentwood School is and was responsible for the drainage system created in the beginning of building their athletic complex. This means that the school may have had a direct hand in making the decision to bury rather than excavate biomedical waste from under their football field despite school officials’ comments to the contrary.

“The Sharing Partner shall be responsible for the cost of all utilities, repairs and maintenance associated with its use of the Shared Property… The Sharing Partner shall be responsible for all costs associated with the installation of the utility system connections on DVA property.”

P. 28/48:

Indemnifying the VA and ignoring the hazardous wastes problem may prove to be a costly mistake to Brentwood School: “The Sharing Partner shall indemnify and hold the Government harmless from any and all claims resulting from the negligent acts or omissions of the Sharing Partner, its officers, agents, students, employees, guests or invitees other than those who are DVA employees, patients and necessary attendants of guests.”

The full clause:

P. 31/48:

Rent charges for the 20 acres.

P. 36/48:

If Brentwood School breaks agreement, VA is not liable for the capital improvements undertaken by the school on the property.

P. 39/48:

The following, and final, snippet of this web page is crucial to the understanding of if and when Brentwood School knew, or should have known, about contaminants under its Shared Property fields. According to this section, the “VA, without expense to the Sharing Partner, will have qualified personnel present as appropriate on the Shared Property during grading by the Shared Partner to observe the grading activities for the potential presence of hazardous materials on the property. If such materials are encountered, the parties will consult and mutually agrees (sic) as to how the materials will be evaluated.”

The bad news for Brentwood School is that this says that they were jointly responsible with the VA for deciding to not excavate the bags of syringes found on what was to become the football field and to simply cover it with asphalt. It also suggests that all other reports of hazardous materials at the site, evidenced in other Waxman-supplied documents, were also under their purview, which makes sense since the school was paying for the construction of the $2.5 million athletic complex anyway.

The school, with its repeated assertions that no radioactive biomedical waste is under its fields, or that if it and non-radioactive waste actually was then it was entirely removed, seems questionable at best especially in light of these apparent violations of the contract with the VA regarding this Shared Property.

The good news for Brentwood School is that should hazardous materials be discovered in the Shared Property, then the VA will suspend collection of rent until they are remediated. In other words, if the athletic fields need to be excavated, Brentwood School will not have to pay rent until the work is completed, surely a small compensation for what is beginning to look like a school immersed in scandal that it could have possibly avoided were administrators during the time of construction, and personnel now, had chosen a truthful and transparent path in dealing with the toxics issues now plaguing the institution.

Exclusive 2019 Update: VICTORY AT THE VA – West LA Veterans Administration master plan protects old nuclear dump from development

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