HLS Tests Water and Air After Solvent Found

After dry-cleaning solvent was discovered in ground water at Harvard Law School last December, school officials have launched a further round of testing on the water and air to ensure that it is not a serious problem.

The testing, which consists of drilling and sampling, is scheduled to continue through May.

“The main message to take away is that we’re being abundantly cautious to make sure this is being handled right,” said Michael A. Armini, the Law School director of communications. “It was one of those things where the best thing to do was to continue to test.”

To prevent groundwater vapors from affecting air quality, venting systems have also been installed as a precautionary measure. The Law School has been working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Armini added that the groundwater has nothing to do with drinking water.

The dry-cleaning solvent, which was mainly concentrated near Story and Wyeth halls, was discovered during routine tests for the Northwest Corner project.

In an e-mail written to the student body yesterday, Dean of Students Ellen M. Cosgrove wrote that the Law School was monitoring a local dry cleaner to see what impact it was having on air quality.

“The dry cleaner adjacent to campus updated its equipment in early January, and we are continuing to monitor the impact of the dry cleaning operation on outdoor air,” she wrote.

She added that the venting systems which had been installed are now working correctly.

“These systems are currently working properly, and allow us to continue our ongoing assessment of the situation, while making sure that these buildings are safe for occupancy,” Cosgrove wrote.

On campus, students said they were not concerned about the groundwater developments.

“I have not heard any discussion about this among students,” law student James B. Tarter said. “It seems like they are taking reasonable precautions and are keeping us well informed.”

—Kevin Zhou can be reached at kzhou@fas.harvard.edu.