Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 3, 2002-Southeast Missouri State University will be conducting a radiation survey of the laboratory drains and clean-up of the acid dilution pits in Rhodes, Magill and Johnson Halls next week. The clean-up will necessitate the closing of restroom facilities in both Rhodes and Magill Halls during the first week of the eight-week summer session.

During a January study of the drainage system serving Magill and Rhodes Hall by the University’s environmental contractor, Science Applications International Organization (SAIC), small amounts of radioactive materials were found in acid dilution pits. The pits are designed to dilute any concentrated acids being flushed down drains.

The acid pits are not located in public areas and contamination of the pits is not related to the major americium-241 spill in the basement of Magill Hall which occurred several years ago, said Dr. Chris McGowan, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

“The current contamination problem most likely happened when contaminated equipment from the 1970s was cleaned,” McGowan said.

Only a small amount of americium radiation was found in the acid pits in the science buildings in January and americium has not been used in the University labs for more than two decades, McGowan added.

SAIC will be responsible for cleaning out the acid dilution pits. The dilution pits and the laboratory sinks will need to be completely dry in order to be surveyed. According to McGowan, this will necessitate turning off the water and steam to Rhodes and Magill Halls for approximately one week. Johnson Hall has only one sink affected and therefore will have water and steam. Students attending the summer school session will be directed to restroom facilities in other buildings, including Scully, Johnson and Dempster Halls and the Seabaugh Polytechnic Building. No classrooms are affected.

Inspectors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be on campus during the week to observe the survey and clean-up. At the conclusion of the process, GTS Duratek, an environmental waste hauler, will remove any identified contaminated waste, as well as remove a few items which had small areas of contamination found during a recent campus-wide “scoping” survey. These materials identified during the survey were found in the science complex. They included a small number of items such as a desk, test tube holders and other general equipment.


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