Radon levels to be reduced at Upper Blue
SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit School District officials seem confident the high radon levels at Upper Blue Elementary School will be reduced to safe levels before children return to their classrooms in September.
A series of radon tests that concluded this spring showed the building registered unacceptable levels of the radioactive gas, which can be dangerous if inhaled.
The “action” level for radon is four Pico curies per liter (pCi/L), while “immediate action” is required for levels exceeding 100pCi/L, according to a letter from WeeCycle Environmental Consulting Inc. Testing at Upper Blue has shown radon levels ranging from 3.5 to 41.7 pCi/L.
School officials received four bids after they sent out a request for proposals to mitigate the radon problem at the elementary school. They hired Ace Radon Company to make the building safe for students before school starts. The project should cost less than $30,000, said Mike Arnold, the district’s facilities director.
Ace Radon Company will exhaust the gas from the building by drilling holes into the ground beneath the building slab, Arnold said. It will use pipes running from the ground up through the roof to remove the radon from the vicinity.
“What it’s doing is pulling air out from underneath the slab, because that’s where radon collects,” Arnold said.
Workers will install four pipes in unobtrusive places in the building, such as closets and storage rooms, where the highest levels of radon have been recorded. They will use fans to pull the gas up from the ground and out of the building. The fans will run 24 hours a day.
Ace used the same method successfully at a school in Telluride, where radon levels were even higher than those recorded at Upper Blue, so Arnold is confident the school will be safe for children within a few weeks.
The company likely will have the project at Upper Blue complete within two weeks, and it has included a five-year warranty in its contract with Summit Schools. Should the school show elevated radon levels once the work is complete, Ace will fix the problem at its own cost.
“I have absolute trust in these guys,” Arnold said, adding that he’s worked with the company at another school district with worse environmental problems.
In addition, school officials plan to completely ventilate the building and have hired WeeCycle to oversee the project.
School officials will hold a public meeting with Ace and WeeCycle representatives for concerned parents before school starts, said Wes Smith, former schools superintendent.
Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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