School Leader Explains Delay In Soil Testing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego

    At Monday night's cancer forum in Carlsbad, several parents and residents lashed out at superintendent John Roach, E.d.D.

    "Dr. Roach, you have to step in,"said Stacey Quartarone who's 16 year old son Chase, died of lymphoma last December.

    Quartarone and some other residents believe Dr. Roach has been trying to avoid soil testing because it could end up costing a lot of money.

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    Residents say an investigation's outcome was not what they hoped but not unexpected, either.

    "If dollar signs are what is motivating you, then have you considered the loss to the city including tourism dollars, home values and education dollars from parents pulling their children out of Carlsbad schools because of their fear,"said Carlsbad resident Jennifer Carlos.

    But in an interview on Tuesday with NBCSanDiego, Dr. Roach explained that he needed to hear the findings of the cancer cluster investigation before moving forward on any possible testing.

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    While the overall cancer rate for the city is not unusually high, there is one troubling statistic.

    "It clearly tells us that there are not excess cases of cancer here in Carlsbad,"said Dr. Roach.

    With that information, Dr. Roach said he can now approach the school board and consider whether to vote on testing.

    He says there are currently eight schools in Carlsbad, including Kelly Elementary, that have not undergone any type of extensive soil testing.

    That's because those schools were built before 2000, when testing became mandatory.

    Dr. Roach said the testing would cost about $60,000 per school.

    "So, it's not cheap,"said Dr. Roach.

    He also said he encourages federal, state and public funding to help pay for the testing, because he doesn't believe the school district should foot the bill.

    "By what the scientists said, there's no additional cancers, and there's no reason to spend additional funds on doing that at this time," he said.

    In 2008, soil testing at Carlsbad High School revealed high levels of arsenic in three different areas on the old football field. The school district had to remove the soil and move it to a dump in Nevada.