Magnolia Elementary reopens amid toxic fume debate

Posted at 7:20 AM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-18 11:23:50-04
EL CAJON, Calif. – An El Cajon school that was forced to close for a full year due to a lawsuit over toxic fumes from dumped chemicals reopened Thursday to students. 
The Cajon Valley Union School District installed air pumps to disperse toxic fumes away from Magnolia Elementary School, located on Greenfield Drive.
In the summer of 2015, the district board voted to close the school due to allegations that an aerospace plant had been dumping thousands of gallons of chemicals in the ground. A class-action lawsuit was filed in May of 2015 against Ametek, which used to own the facility. The complaint alleges the company started dumping thousands of chemicals into the ground in the 1960s. The building is currently occupied by Senior Aerospace Ketema. 
The lawsuit claims the sump was lined with cedar planks that did little to stop the chemicals from getting into the ground. Both companies were named as defendants in the lawsuit. 
During the past year, the school made engineering upgrades and conducted environmental safety tests with about $800,000 that was provided by Ametek, which still has offices in the area. 
Although the school opened, the upgrades are still ongoing. Cajon Valley Union Superintendent David Miyashiro told Team 10 Wednesday the air samples came back well within EPA standards. 
"Were the SSD's, the environmental upgrades necessary?” asked Miyashiro. “The scientists would say no. Was the move required? They would say absolutely not. We did that out of deep respect for peace of mind and people's emotional well-being, and I think that we've been able to achieve what we wanted to do."
Miyashiro said he is so confident the air is clean, he would move his office onto campus if there was room. 
The class-action lawsuit is ongoing.