SD20 moves forward with radon remediation in local schools

SD20 schools in Castlegar and Trail will undergo radon upgrades and more testing.

Results from a radon remediation consulting firm have come back and School District 20 has now released information on how it plans to deal with the facilities that had radon readings above acceptable levels.

The testing was done in every school in the district from November 2015 through March 2016. Testing units were placed in multiple locations within each school, mostly in basement and first floor areas as this is where readings will be the highest. The West Kootenay region is known to have high radon levels, with Castlegar being especially of concern.

JL Crowe Secondary School, Stanley Humphries Secondary School, Kinnaird Elementary and KCLC Castlegar Campus (Online Learning) all had levels of radon that were of concern.

The Canadian guideline for radon is a maximum of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3). Health Canada recommends that areas with readings between 200 and 600 Bq/m3 be remediated within two years and areas above 600 Bq/m3 within one year. Health effects associated with radon are cumulative over the long-term, with an increased risk of lung cancer being the only known effect.

Interior Radiation Protection Services Ltd. (IRPS) was contracted to evaluate the results and affected buildings. Based on their recommendations the district has decided on a plan of action that was detailed in a news bulletin on the district website.

Stanley Humphries and JL Crowe Secondary Schools

At JL Crowe Secondary, there was one result over the 200 Bq/m3 threshold in the basement where there are no occupants.

At Stanley Humphries Secondary School, there was also one result over the threshold in the basement where there are no occupants.

Sealing of ductwork and some sealing of cracks in the floors of both buildings will be completed. As well, with the installation of new HVAC units at Stanley Humphries Secondary, a balancing of the system needs to be completed. Once these items are complete, IRPS will conduct further testing at both schools. The testing will include 100 per cent of the basement and rooms in contact with the ground that are occupied for four hours or more per day, and 10 per cent of the rooms on each floor above.

Kinnaird Elementary

In October, IRSP will be conducting sub-slab communications testing, which helps to ultimately determine the mitigation work required to remediate the elevated radon levels. Once this work is completed, the complete mitigation plan will be developed by IRPS and carried out as soon as possible.

KCLC Castlegar Campus

Although there were no tests above the threshold at this site, IRPS recommends the sealing of exposed soils underneath. This will improve both the levels of radon as well as improving general air quality. Based on the recommendations of IRPS,a de-pressurization piping system will be installed to help vent the radon. This work will be completed by the end of November.