Apr 21, 2017 11:49 AM EDT
On Tuesday, the University of Nevada, Reno announced that the relocation of 30 employees and several student workers in the 8/,000 square foot building after to low levels of radiation were found. The Facilities Services Building radiation readings were all below the government's maximum permitted level of 100 millirems, a measure of radiation dosage per year, which is below the levels that often occur naturally in the atmosphere especially at higher altitudes.
UNR President Marc Johnson said in a letter to the faculty and students that the Facilities Services Building were found to have low levels of radium in the fall of 2016. The building is between Ansari Business and Mackay School of Mines. They were able to discover the issue with the help of the Nevada Radiation Control Program, which was built in 1920 and used by the U.S. Bureau of Mines for research that involved the separation of radium from ore.
Johnson said the the radiation levels were below the government's maximum permitted exposure and the law requires that the university removes the radium. UNR will relocate employees to alternate offic space. They university said no classes have been held in the building.
It was recommended that the university decontaminate or remove the building, Johnson said. He added that decontamination is preferred given the historic nature of the building.
My News 4 reported that a university spokesperson said that all of the buildings in the surrounding areas were also tested and found to be free of radium contamination. Decontamination of the building could cost the university between $4.5 to $6 million dollars. Demolishing the building would cost $1.5 to $2 million dollars.
Due to a law that requires them to remove the radium, the University has decided to relocate all occupants so that officials can evaluate the most feasible next steps.
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