Douglas County radon controversy remains emotional |

Douglas County radon controversy remains emotional

MINDEN – Experts clashed, parents cried and Douglas County School Board members looked confused. Radon was back, rearing its head at Tuesday’s school board meeting at Douglas High School.

“My son attended Zephyr Cove Elementary School from kindergarten through fifth grade. If I had known they had a substandard system that did not meet EPA requirements, I would have never allowed my son to continue at that school,” parent Kathy Percival said while fighting back tears. “The board is proposing more Band-Aids. I think by doing this, you are continuing to curse our community with a problem we don’t have to have.”

Last year, tests done at Zephyr Cove Elementary revealed radon levels in some rooms to be above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended levels.

On Tuesday, the debate continued as to whether enough is being done to reduce levels of the radioactive gas at the school.

According to district officials, HEPA filters that were installed at the school have been working.

“The tests have indicated we are below by 50 percent the EPA standard,” said Chief Financial Officer Holly Luna. But Adrian Howe, a radiation specialist for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said research on HEPA filtration was not conclusive, and that it should be coupled with other measures such as active soil depressurization.

Dick Roper, certified radon tester and owner of Fallon Heating and Air Conditioning in Carson City, said the school does have some soil depressurization measures in place from years ago, but that the systems were installed incorrectly and cover only a percentage of the building. He estimated fixing the existing systems would cost $40,000.

But school board members were hesitant to approve any repairs if they would have to employ active soil depressurization for the entire building anyway. Rather, they asked for an estimate on how much a schoolwide active soil depressurization system would cost. Roper estimated $75,000 to $150,000, but he wouldn’t be able to perform the work until at least 30 days after snow melts from around the site.

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