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updated: 12/10/2013 12:25 AM

Leaky pipe, bad smell to be fixed at Libertyville High

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An enormous generator will provide heat for Libertyville High School while crews fix a leaky steampipe, District 128 officials said Monday.

The heating system is working fine now, but it needs to be taken offline so the pipe can be repaired.

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"If we don't have heat there, we don't have school," Superintendent Prentiss Lea said during a facilities and finance committee meeting at the district office in Vernon Hills. "It's pretty important, obviously."

The trailer-mounted generator is coming from a vendor in Detroit, Lea said.

"You don't rent these at the local rent-all," Lea said.

It could arrive later this week and be operating next week, Lea said.

A cost estimate was not provided for the generator or the emergency repair work, which could be done during winter break.

The leak was discovered after an employee noticed steam coming out of the ground near the pool entrance. Additionally, students and employees had complained about an unpleasant odor in the western portion of the school, near physical education space, offices, a pool locker room and a hallway.

Officials believe the smell is from a water-softening chemical. Tests haven't revealed anything dangerous in the steam, Lea said.

"It's basically a nuisance smell," he said.

It only would be dangerous if someone drank or bathed in the water, Principal Marina Scott wrote in a message to parents on the school's website.

Other steps are being taken to reduce the odor, officials said. Additionally, some offices have been temporarily relocated.

The repairs were approved at a board meeting following the committee discussion.

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