Last updated: April 09. 2013 1:02PM - 916 Views
By - rtomkavage@timesleader.com - (570) 704-3941

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CLARKS SUMMIT- With safety concerns about the pool still being raised by a number of parents of swimmers, the Abington Heights School District plans to hire an outside expert to assess the problems.

“We have to bring in an outside expert to look at this with independent eyes,” Abington Heights Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Mahon said. “We want to share with them what we have found and get their expert opinion.”

The board is expected to vote at the April 17 meeting to approve an individual for the job.

“When trying to understand some of the things that happened at the pool, we’ve looked very closely at the type of maintenance and some actions that have taken place leading up to the serious incident that took place with a student becoming overcome by fumes,” Mahon said.

“The issue occurs when chloramines leave the water and cause respiratory distress when they settle right at the surface of the water. When athletes are heavily engaged, there are a very serious issue.”

Mahon believes a circulation problem with the water is the main reason for the chloramines in the pool.

“We have reams of data that show that when we test our water the chlorine is good,” he said. “We looked at our filter and came up with the idea that we are not pumping water through the pool as quickly as we should. In all likelihood, there are large dead spots of water that tend to develop the chlorimines.”

Mahon believes there are two solutions to the chloramine problem.

“The first, a costly one, is the replacement of our filter system,” he said. “We would like to increase circulation so that the entire pool circulates through the filter about once every six hours. “The second component is attaching an ultraviolet device to the water. The UV treatment absolutely destroys the chloramines and has the added benefit of disinfecting some of the other bacteria that accumulates in the pool”

The cost for a new filter and ultraviolet light treatment would be approximately $150,000, according to Mahon.

“My thought is if we increase the circulation and flow through the filter and couple that with a ultraviolet light treatment, we will have gone an enormous distance in solving this problem,” he said.

Board member Jeanne Cadman expressed the belief that the users of the pool should be required to shower before entering the pool.

“I think everyone collectively needs to assume a sense of responsibility for this issue,” Cadman said. “I think it will aid in the success of the investment.”

According to Mahon, a group of engineers at The University of Scranton, along with the college’s director of facilities and a Ph.D. physics professor are assessing ways the district can save money on energy bills.

“They have some remarkably good ideas for lowering our energy costs,” Mahon said. “It’s been a very positive thing and it’s been nice to cooperate on a interinstituational educational project.”

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