By Janee Law
A wing of Northport Middle School will be closed through the entirety of the 2017-2018 school year due to continued air quality testing, Northport-East Northport school district officials announced Aug. 9.
After teachers complained of smelling petroleum in classrooms in the K-wing, the district conducted inspections at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Open materials in the warehouse beneath the K-wing were discovered, officials said.
The first complaint was filed September 2011 and revolved around an odor coming from pipes in a classroom in the win. The piping was sealed and no other complaints were filed until earlier this year.
In April, another complain of an odor outside a neighboring classroom was made. Students and teachers assigned to the K-wing were relocated to different classrooms in the building, and the district performed air quality testing.
Alan Earle, the district’s health and safety officer, inspected later that month the classroom involved in the most recent complaint, and the warehouse below the wing.
“We believe that the cause is attributed to some open containers that were underneath in the warehouse, directly below the classroom,” Robert Banzer, superintendent of schools, said Tuesday. “Some of those fumes had worked their way up to the classroom because some of them were left open.”
During the inspection of the warehouse, Earle discovered an uncovered mop pail containing water and oil from the fuel tank catch basin, and an uncovered mop pail with a leaking 5-gallon container of floor finish.
The district immediately began removing and disposing any open containers found in the warehouse, officials said.
On April 27, Ronkonkoma-based Enviroscience Consulting conducted air canister tests in both the classroom and the warehouse. Four of the 24 volatile organic chemicals tested above the 95th percentile of the state Department of Health’s indoor air quality guidelines.
New test results announced Aug. 9 indicate that no volatile organic compounds were detected above levels of state guidelines. Tests were also conducted throughout the building, and no compounds were found in those results, Banzer said.
Still, Banzer added, the K-wing will remain closed for the 2017-2018 school year for additional testing by Hauppauge-based J.C. Broderick & Associates.
The wing, which includes six classrooms, will be closed and teachers and students originally assigned to classrooms there will be moved to other rooms throughout the building.
“We’re taking this very seriously moving forward because the safety and health of our students and staff is our number one priority,” Banzer said. “We’re going to continue to be proactive and collaborative moving forward so we can minimize these types of issues and be proactive in our awareness of these types of situations.”