Update on Radon works to Council properties

The Highland Council has been taking action to reduce radon in nine properties which include five schools. Testing earlier in the year showed all properties had radon above the statutory Action Level of 400 Bq/m³.

Remedial works were designed for the Council by a specialist radon consultant and specialist radon contractors were employed to carry out the installation and commissioning of the systems. Following the works the short term monitoring showed results below the Action Level at all sites, with the exception of one short-term result at Glen Urquhart High School.  

The results of long term monitoring (3 month) have now been received for Helmsdale Primary, Helmsdale Library, Halkirk Primary and Glen Urquhart High School. Today (Tuesday 2 December), a letter has been sent to these schools for distribution to parents, staff and partner agencies to advise them of the results. Substantial radon reduction has been achieved in all four properties.  Helmsdale Primary and Halkirk Primary results were all satisfactory. One result in Helmsdale Library is above the Council’s target of 200 Bq/m³ but below the statutory Action Level, and measures to deal with this will be implemented with the buildings operators.  

The long term results received for Glen Urquhart High School show that 29 out of the 30 results are below the Action Level. One result is still over the Action Level, although there has been a significant reduction (1,176Bq/m³ down to 481Bq/m³). Five further results were above the Council’s target of 200 Bq/m³ but below the statutory Action Level.  

There has been ongoing liaison with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) throughout this process.  PHE has agreed that the results for Glen Urquhart High School indicate that the mitigation works have had a significant positive effect but that further work is required to resolve any remaining issues. PHE has also advised that further 3 month testing should be undertaken and it will be helpful if the premises continue in normal use for the confirmatory tests, and pending the 3 month monitoring results. PHE has reviewed the results and are satisfied that there is no significant increased risk to facility users during this further monitoring period. 

The Council’s Director of Care and Learning, Bill Alexander said: “The results at Glen Urquhart High School show a substantial overall reduction in radon levels at the school due to the specialist remedial works. The Council is now working with its specialist radon adviser to determine what further steps may be required, for example reviewing ventilation, installing additional extract sumps, etc, and we will be looking to implement these as soon as it is practical to do so.”  

Long term (3 month) monitoring results for Glenurquhart Primary, Kilchuimen Primary and Academy and the Telford Centre in Fort Augustus are expected in the next few weeks. The two month monitoring at Brora Heritage Centre shows results below Action Level, as does the results received from Fort Augustus Memorial Hall.  

Bill Alexander added: “The Council will issue a further update to all schools once further monitoring results are received.  If in the meantime anyone has any concerns, or questions then they should contact our Environmental Health team on 01349 886603 or email env.health@highland.gov.uk


2 Dec 2014
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