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Methane in School : Gas Threat Eases; Gym Set to Open

Times Staff Writer

All facilities at Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley are expected to be open Monday after city crews drilled five wells to dissipate explosive methane gas that had been seeping for a week into the boys’ gymnasium from a nearby landfill.

A check of the school Friday showed no gas leakage into the gym, according to William N. Madson, area facilities director for the Los Angeles Unified School District. The site will be monitored throughout the weekend and, if the readings continue to show no leakage, the gym will be open when school resumes Monday after the weeklong Easter recess, Madson said.

Workers from the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation drilled three wells on Thursday and two more on Friday to relieve the underground buildup of gas, which leaked from the Sheldon-Arleta Landfill across the street from the school. Pumps were placed in the wells, and the gas was forced out into the air, where it dissipated, Madson said.

Drilling of 4 More Wells Slated

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Because the school had experienced previous problems with methane seeping into both the boys’ and girls’ gyms, four gas evacuation wells will be drilled next Saturday near the girls’ gym as a precaution, according to Robert M. Alpern, principal sanitary engineer with the city bureau.

Officials said the gas, emitted by decaying trash, may have leaked out of the dump because of an error by an employee who shut off a valve that is part of the dump’s gas-capture system.

In a related development, school district officials reported that a high level of methane was detected early in the week at Arminta Street Elementary School in North Hollywood. But that gas had disappeared by Friday, before work crews were able to determine its source. The school is across the street from the Penrose Landfill.


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