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Methane Gone : Gym Is Reopened After Gas Seepage

April 09, 1985

School officials Monday reopened the boys' gymnasium at Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, saying there is no longer any trace of the explosive gas methane that had closed the building for more than a week.

William Madson, area facilities director for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said no traces of methane were detected in the gym throughout the weekend, prompting the decision to reopen the building. It was closed March 28, when methane seeping from the Sheldon-Arleta Landfill across the street triggered an alarm system in the school.

Last Thursday and Friday, city work crews drilled five gas evacuation wells next to the gym to intercept and dissipate the gas. Madson said officials will continue to pump the wells until the air coming out is methane-free.

Philip Nassief, principal of the high school, said students and teachers had not expressed to him any apprehension about returning to the building. The closing had little effect on school programs because of the spring vacation last week.

On Saturday, city crews plan to drill four more wells next to the girls' gym as a precaution. No methane was detected in the girls' gym during the latest episode, but the building has been plagued by methane seepage in the past.

Officials with the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, which owns the inactive landfill, said they believe the methane escaped because a valve that is part of the dump's gas capture system was mistakenly shut off for nearly three weeks in March.

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