Gilman renovation plans delayed after detection of radiation

Photo: Plans to renovate Gilman Hall have been stalled as low levels of radiation have been detected on the roof of the building.
Tony Zhou/Staff
Plans to renovate Gilman Hall have been stalled as low levels of radiation have been detected on the roof of the building.

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Low levels of radiation found on the roof of Gilman Hall have halted plans to move forward with renovations to the building, which include replacing roof tiles and, possibly, gutters.

The renovations are part of the UC's 2010-11 Deferred Maintenance and Capital Renewal Program, which uses campus funds to repair buildings that have deteriorated to the point of raising concern, according to Office of Environment, Health and Safety Director Mark Freiberg.

Freiberg said that this year, the campus had planned to renovate 44 buildings around campus but that a major concern has been repairing roofs.

"This is the year of the roof," he said.

Minutes from the March 8 Executive Safety Committee meeting stated that the levels of radiation found atop Gilman do not raise any concerns unless construction is being done to the roof specifically.

Because the program called for roof renovation of Gilman, testing and evaluations of the levels of radiation were done to see if the work would be hazardous.

Freiberg said his office's evaluation concluded that specific parts of the roof showed extremely low levels of radiation and that the proposed work on the roof would not be harmful to either workers or building occupiers.

With new complications arising from the detection of radiation - such as disposal of waste from the roof - the construction cost for Gilman was increased, causing campus officials to move forward with other renovations and halt the Gilman renovation, according to Freiberg.

"From a waste perspective, radiation drives up the cost of construction," he said. "We are taking more time to look at the situation."

Freiberg said he does not know why Gilman has the low amount of radiation but added that looking at the past history of the building may be beneficial.

"Gilman Hall has a history of long-lived radioisotopes and also the discovery of plutonium," he said. "Also, the Manhattan Project was tested here in the 1940s, so it is possible that radiological contamination occurred back that far."

Freiberg added that radiation was also detected at Calvin Lab, but workers have removed contamination from occupied areas of the building or have properly shielded it.

The Office of Environment, Health and Safety is looking at collaborating with an outside firm to do some sampling on the roof of Gilman, but because it is not an urgent renovation, it will be put off until the price is negotiated and safety is ensured, Freiberg said.


Contact Jasmine Mausner at [email protected]

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