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home : government : county May 29, 2016

2/20/2013 2:15:00 PM
Dodge County Commissioners Radon gas in courthouse; mitigation plans in place

By Gretta Becay

Three separate series of tests confirmed that radon gas lurks in the Dodge County Courthouse and at levels high enough to require mitigation.

Emergency Management Director Matt Maas recently presented information to building employees about radon gas and its health risks to humans. A task force has been formed which includes employees who work in the areas most affected. An architect will be visiting the building to suggest mitigation techniques that can be put in place.

Radon gas is very common in structures; in fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Health website, 67% of the structures in Dodge County have dangerous levels of the radioactive gas. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

The latest tests for the old part of the building show levels to be higher than four picocuries; the level at which the Environmental Protection Agency suggests mitigation. (A picocurie is one trillionth of a curie - the unit used to measure radioactivity.)

The gas is present in soil in certain areas of the country and enters buildings through cracks in basement or foundation walls or floors. The Department of Health suggests all homeowners test their homes for the presence of the gas. Kits are available online or in local hardware stores.

County commissioners have been kept abreast of the issue since testing began. These final test results were given to them at their last meeting Feb 12, 2013.

Also at that meeting, in other business, the commissioners approved:

• The purchase of a new CAT 140M2 motor grader for the highway department for a net $225,000 after trade-in.

• A resolution asking the state legislature to include the U.S. Highway 14 expansion between Owatonna and Dodge Center in the state highway investment plan. The request is particularly important this year because the Environmental Impact Statement for this section of road will be three years old in August and if no action has been taken, that survey will require re-evaluation.

• The purchase of security cameras for the impound lot.

• Potential Drug Court training expenses for Judge Jodi L. Williamson who is presumed to be replacing Judge Wieners after he retires in September.

• The amendment of a conditional use permit for James Masching to allow the expansion of an existing feedlot of 2,769 finishing hogs (about 830 animal units) to 3,796 finishing hogs for a total of about 1,140 animal units in Westfield Township.

• Appointing Dick Leonard, Lori Kryzer and Steve Gray to the Southeastern Minnesota Association of Regional Trails board.

The commissioners tabled hiring a replacement for Warren Schwenke, an engineering supervisor who has been at the highway department since 1974 and is retiring in April.

At the Committee of the Whole meeting, the commissioners discussed, at length, feedlot performance standards revisions as related to OFFSET (Odor From Feedlot Setback Estimation Tool) Annoyance-Free Value at specified distances. Commissioners are struggling to answer the recurring question, at what distance or with what type of filter are feedlot odors acceptable?

Commissioner David Erickson summed up the meeting, saying, "There's a lot of discussion yet to come. There'll be no action [on this issue] for quite awhile."

The commissioners will meet again at 9:30 a.m. Feb 26 at the courthouse.

Claremont Service

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