Radon hit schools finally named

Education chiefs have finally revealed the FIVE Derry schools where excess levels of a potentially cancer causing gas have been found.

A spokeswoman for the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) says work has been completed at the schools where Radon gas readings above the recommended levels where located.

WELB yesterday confirmed that “intervention measures” were carried out over the summer months at Balloughry Primary, Drumahoe Primary, Eglinton Primary, Good Shepherd Primary and St John’s Primary.

Excess Radon was also found in Strabane Primary, Barrack Street Boys Primary and St Anne’s Primary School, both also in Strabane, and St Mary’s Primary in Claudy. In total Radon was found in 18 schools across the WELB area.

Radon - a naturally occurring gas emitted from the decay of uranium in soil - is reportedly the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking in Ireland and is directly linked to about 200 lung cancer deaths each year.

The WELB spokeswoman says tests for the gas have been carried out in all school buildings over the summer holidays.

“At the beginning of July 2011, WELB put in place arrangements to install intervention measures (extraction systems) to mitigate the concentrations of Radon in the areas of the schools affected. Contractors completed the installations on July 18. The systems have been working since and a further monitoring programme was carried out to check the effectiveness of the systems. This was completed on August 11.”

She says parents of children and staff at affected schools have been informed of the work carried out.

“The Board wishes to reassure both parents and staff that it has been proactive in dealing with Radon and that it has installed all the extraction systems in accordance with the Public Health Agency guidance,” she says.

WELB say they will now carry out a three month Radon monitoring programme in all the affected schools.

In early August the ‘Journal’ revealed excess Radon had been found in a number of Derry schools, but education chiefs refused to name the schools until now.