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posted: 11/20/2013 5:30 AM

CLC board chair: Radioactive rocks pose no risk

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  • An unspecified level of radioactive material was found on this geology laboratory's rock collection at College of Lake County.

      An unspecified level of radioactive material was found on this geology laboratory's rock collection at College of Lake County.
    Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Amanda Howland

    Amanda Howland

  • Rick Soller

    Rick Soller


College of Lake County's board chairman Tuesday night addressed faculty concerns about an unspecified level of radioactive material found in a geology laboratory's rock collection, saying consultants have been studying the situation and it's not believed anyone has been exposed to health risks.

Amanda Howland spoke after the issue was brought forward during public comment time by earth science teacher Ryan Cumpston and CLC Federation of Teachers union President Rick Soller.

Access to the preparation room in question, A226, has been restricted until consultants finish a thorough assessment, Howland said. She said a specific plan will be crafted for cleaning and testing the room before it reopens to the teachers and lab assistants who are the primary users.

"We have no reason to believe -- based on what we have so far -- that exposure to the rock collection has resulted in any injury to anyone or that it possesses an unreasonable safety risk now or did anytime in the past," Howland said.

Cumpston said he received an email in March from a geology faculty emeritus stating there could be a "health issue" from some "radioactive samples" in the rock collections.

Soller said while the lab remains secured and CLC hired consultants to assess the health risks to those who have been in the room, the union's executive council has passed a resolution calling for more action. In part, the union wants rocks deemed hazardous to be removed as soon as possible, and to assess other areas where the collection's been stored over the years.

"The union executive council found this situation very troubling and would like to see an expeditious resolution," Soller said.

So far, Howland said, CLC has called in a health physicist and a radiation safety consultant. She said a company also was hired to collect asbestos, air and dust samples in A226, and perform a radiation survey.

Another consultant has conducted an inventory of the unspecified rocks in question and made recommendations on storage and disposal. Howland said a final report is to be released by Dec. 6.

Soller said concerns will exist until the amount of radioactivity is known.

"Until we get the final report," Soller said outside the board room, "that will be the telling point."

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