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Front Page » November 29, 2011 » Emery County News » Odors at Ferron City Hall cause problems for workers
Published 967 days ago

Odors at Ferron City Hall cause problems for workers


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

The Ferron City building was recently tested to see what is creating gas type smells in the office. Office personnel have complained of the odors and the affects the odors are having on their health and well being. Oftentimes when the office is opened in the mornings, the windows are opened to air the building out before they can go to work.

Eileen Brennan along with Ed Hickey from the Department of Water Quality reported to the city council on the test results. The test results showed areas where the allowable percentages of chemicals were exceeded including benzine levels. The analysis covers 80-90 compounds. Soil data was collected around the perimeter of the building. Lead was not an issue in the test results.

It is not known how the vapors from the soils are getting into the building. They have looked at cracks, pipes, sewer lines and there is only one line that leaves the building and it didn't register anything on the hand held meter when it was tested. There are no indications of where the odor is coming into the building.

It was suggested more tests/readings be taken on a day when the smell was really prevalent. Ideas were discussed to mitigate the odor. One idea was modifications to the air conditioning/heating system in the building. An idea was to draw less air from the crawl space and more from outside. That is a potential remedy said Brennan, but they don't know if it will work. A second option could be an active venting system around the building. Another idea is to line the floor of the crawl space and seal the walls and floor. That's a possibility, but it's not known for sure if the smells are coming from the crawl space. A hole could also be created in the crawl space to vent outside.

Mayor JoAnn Behling said Questar had been in the building and they closed off the vents to the crawl space. You can't cut off the return air to the furnace. Mayor Behling asked Brennan if the levels are dangerous, Brennan said the levels aren't outrageous.

Councilman Garrett Hansen said he believes there has been an odor in the city building since it was built. It was constructed on property where an old shop previously was located.

The test draws an air sample for eight continuous hours. The test is a standard EPA test.

Brennan said it's not their job to see who caused the problem, but just to fix it.

There have been rumors that the store has caused all the problems and Mayor Behling said that's unfair and Ferron needs a store and everything possible must be done to keep the store open. It was a falsehood that Ferron City would sue Main Street Market and the mayor would like all rumors to stop.

The costs involved to seal the building was estimated to be between $10,000-$15,000.

The most important factor is the health of the workers at city hall. Something must be done to ensure their safety at work. They have complained of headaches and other symptoms due to the odors in the building.

It was mentioned that a cure for the problem should be started on before the source of the problem is located. Testing should be done on a bad odor day for the most accurate readings. There is a limited amount of money to fix the problem. Someone suggested the building be shut up for a week and then tested. The mayor said they will look at the options and decide what to do, but for now they will call for testing on a bad day.

Brennan said they collected no evidence which said the building needs to be evacuated and current use can continue.

It was mentioned that everyone has a different degree of sensitivity to odors and their effects. Maybe the workers should move out of the building until the situation is rectified.

Councilmember Ronnie Bloomer said not to wait for a bad day, but to schedule days to get more testing done, he also suggested training one of the city workers so they could gather the samples.

In other Ferron business the new water meters were discussed, the preference for Ferron may be changed because they want all the meters to be uniform throughout the county.

Councilman Joe Trenery said the final inspection has been completed on the roads. He also noted the school didn't shovel their sidewalks during the recent snowstorm. Everyone is responsible to shovel their sidewalks.

The scarecrow contest was a success and prizes were awarded.

Bloomer said they need to get bids for the concrete at the fairgrounds.

Nielson Construction needs water from the city and they will trade work on the ballfield at the fairgrounds in exchange for the water.

Lane Justice said the veterinarian rack needs to be replaced at the fairgrounds.

The mayor and councilmembers considered the medium and short term list for CIB projects. The mayor suggested moving the cemetery expansion up on the priority list as they are running out of room there. The mayor said they don't want to incur any notes because Ferron has all the notes they can handle. Grants will be sought for any projects the city wants to do.

It was mentioned that ADA improvements at the golf course restaurant be moved up on the list. Small pavilions at the mayor's park were also listed. The council prepared the surplus property list for advertisement and bids will be opened at a future meeting.

The council also wants to have Rocky Mountain Power install power on more of the poles so they can be used for Christmas lights throughout the city.

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