Navy discovers elevated radon levels on base

Military officials discovered elevated levels of radon during regular testing carried out as part of the Navy’s Radon Assessment and Mitigation Program (NAVRAMP).

Lt. Tim Gorman, Joint Region Marianas public affairs officer, said the elevated levels were discovered in non-housing buildings across Naval Base Guam.

“In November 2015 several buildings were tested, none of which resulted in elevated radon levels,” he said in an email to the Post. “During the period of July 18 to Aug. 15, 2016, 325 buildings were tested. Of those, 46 were above the Department of the Navy required-action levels for radon.”

Gorman said that of the readings taken, the highest encountered was less than half of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration limit.

According to a release from Joint Region Marianas, the levels of radon are well below the OSHA standard considered safe for normal daily work environments and are not considered to pose an immediate danger to the workforce.

On the other hand, the Navy and Environmental Protection Agency have much more stringent standards concerning radon levels and, according to the release, established mitigation actions and timelines to reduce them.

'We are taking action'

Gorman said that the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in all affected buildings were being adjusted and that additional diagnostics would be conducted to determine the proper mitigation procedures.

“We are committed to the health and safety of our employees,” said Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander, Joint Region Marianas. “While it is safe for our staff to work, we are taking action to immediately address this issue.”

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is produced by the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium, and is a common component of the soil and rocks under homes and buildings around the world. Outdoors, radon is harmlessly diluted by the atmosphere. However, sometimes in enclosed places, radon can accumulate to levels requiring corrective action.

Gorman told the Post that NAVRAMP was established by the Navy in 1988 in response to the Indoor Radon Abatement Act, when medical studies began showing that radon posed a potential health risk.

“We are taking aggressive action to meet the Navy's more stringent NAVRAMP program guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our employees," he said.

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