The Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic District School Board held an open house meeting Thursday night, to discuss upgrades to the ventilation system of our Lady of Fatima.
Parents, union representatives, trustees, administration and other members of the public gathered in the schools gymnasium, to discuss contaminants that had leaked off the adjacent property, the former Nortel location (now Avaya and Strathcona Energy).
In September, the board elected to transfer students off the Sidney Street property, temporarily relocating them to George Vanier Catholic.
The main contaminant of concern is called trichloroethylene (TCE). The board was aware there was volatile organic compounds (VOCs) since 2001, and they hired XCG Consultants to drill monitoring wells, and track the progress of the (VOC’s). Indoor air quality tests were also undertaken to ensure students, staff and visitor safety on site.
Hastings Prince Edward Medical Officer of Health Doctor Richard Schabas was brought in on the discussions, and after consulting with the Ministry of Environment and Public Health Ontario, he notified the board (July 4, 2016) that the possible levels of exposure to TCE was likely not enough to have adverse health effects. He did however recommend remedial action to reduce future exposure.
The board brought in construction crews to install a mechanical ventilation system which is said to provide fresh outdoor air numerous times a day. They also created a sub-slab depressurization system, which is installed in the southern portion of the school building.
Following the upgrades, a number of Indoor Air Quality tests were undertaken and experts deemed the building safe for re-occupancy. Students and staff will return to the school this month.
Some in attendance did have concern with safety and the turbulence of moving students back and forth, but for the most part left satisfied. Students will return to the school Monday December 19, just four days before the start of Christmas holidays.