Needham parents, already concerned about air quality at their local elementary school, learned Friday an underground fuel tank at the school may have a breach.
The breach is at the Newman School, which opened three days later than other Needham schools this year because of air quality problems. Its heating and ventilation system was revamped after some staff members reported allergy-based health problems.
According to an e-mail to parents today from Superintendent Dan Gutekanst, school officials discovered the leaky tank problem Thursday.
The potential breach in the double-walled tank, which is located near the school’s loading dock and supplies heat to the building, was discovered by engineers testing soil around the tank as part of a study about the school, Gutekanst said in the e-mail.
The engineers notified the town’s public works and public facilities department who drained all the oil from the tank and are in the process of installing a temporary tank while the underground system is inspected.
“The work that is being done will not interfere with the safe and healthy operation of the school and will largely go unnoticed,” Gutekanst wrote.
The town is working with the stated Department of Environmental Protection and following all their guidelines, Gutekanst wrote.
The Newman School, located on Central Avenue, hosts students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Here is the email in full:
Friday, October 10, 2008
Dear Newman Families:
Yesterday afternoon we learned that the underground oil storage tank located near the loading dock that supplies fuel for Newman's heating system may have an inner wall breach in its double wall design. The engineers who have been studying Newman as part of their work for the Permanent Public Building Committee (PPBC) have been testing the soil around the underground tank and reported their concern to the town's Department of Public Works (DPW) and Department of Public Facilities ((DPF). As a precaution, the DPW has removed all the oil from the tank and is in the process of installing a temporary oil tank while the underground system is inspected to determine further steps. The DPW is working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and following their protocols and guidelines for such a project. Rick Merson, Director of the DPW and Chip Laffey, Director of DPF are coordinating this work.
The work that is being done will not interfere with the safe and healthy operation of the school and will largely go unnoticed. Barbara Collins and I thought it would be prudent to alert parents about this work now in progress. Barbara will also provide updates about the work as appropriate. Once again, I am reminded of the swift and proactive way in which the town has responded and have full confidence the DPW will tackle this quickly and efficiently.
Thanks for your ongoing support and good spirit! Enjoy the Columbus Day weekend with your families.
Superintendent of Schools
- Brian Benson