Metro responds to allegation by Beverly Hills Courier

The Beverly Hills Courier published a story in today’s edition headlined “Metro admits Santa Monica Blvd. seismic work not adequate.”

The story involves the studies that the Beverly Hills Unified School District is performing on the Beverly Hills High School campus in order to determine the location of earthquake fault zones in the area. In October, Metro released a pair of reports that determined there were active earthquake fault zones along Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City and that those zones extend into the campus.

The story alleges that two types of tests — boring or soil samples and using an instrument known as a cone penetrometer — that Metro performed on Santa Monica Boulevard were not adequate. The reports released in October were based on the data generated by more than 200 field tests in the Century City area. Metro stands by the adequacy of the tests and the validity of the analysis and conclusions in the reports.

Here is the written statement that Metro provided Courier reporter Marla Schevker, whose byline does not appear on the published story:

Metro has been and is continuing to respond to various follow-up requests seeking clarification or additional information from BHUSD and others. We applaud BHUSD for conducting further tests including trenching. Trench information is useful because a continuous “face” can be mapped to more accurately locate the fault(s). It is very important that experts are able to view the soil while the trenches are open. Once backfilled, the direct data are destroyed, and will be subject to future speculation and debate.

This is why Metro requested that our consultants be allowed to observe the excavation of the trenches at the High School. Independent review is very important for confirming the observations made by the BHUSD geologists.

On January 4, attorneys for BHUSD informed us, “Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, BHUSD cannot grant access to Metro or its consultants while geotechnical work is being conducted on behalf of BHUSD.” If BHSUD will not allow Metro access, we recommend that independent, qualified experts from the California Geological Survey (CGS) or United States Geological Survey (USGS) be invited to study the soil directly in the open trenches.

Metro’s initial fault investigations focused on the Santa Monica Fault on Santa Monica Boulevard and were appropriate for subway planning at this stage. Urbanization, including the presence of subsurface utilities, traffic and permitting precludes trenching in that location.

For the tests conducted at Beverly Hills High School, BHSUD gave Metro limited access to the school property — initially one weekend only which was then extended to other weekends due to rain. Scientific analysis of trenches excavated to the proper depths (at least 15 feet) and spanning the entire width of the fault zone would take a minimum of 14 days and probably more.

A trench that is too shallow, or which does not span the full width of the fault zone, will not yield credible information.

Related posts:
Full biographies of experts involved in seismic and tunneling studies

Full seismic and tunneling reports now online
Videos of Metro Committee’s review of Century City geological reports
Metro responds to errors by Beverly Hills Courier and allegations by Beverly Hills Unified School District

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