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APS Says Human Error Caused Carbon Monoxide Leak at Finch Elementary

A valve that was not reopened after maintenance may have caused the leak that sickened nearly 50 people, including many children.

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Erroll Davis said in a news conference today that human error led to the carbon monoxide leak earlier this week at Finch Elementary School, causing many students and staff members to be hospitalized with the effects of what the fire department said were record high carbon monoxide levels.

“We now believe that there was human error involved, and we’re going to track down the source of that,” Davis said.

A boiler was originally believed to be the cause, but that boiler passed an inspection in 2011 and wasn't up for inspection until next year. The boiler has since been replaced with a temporary fix and a more permanent one is due to be installed this weekend.

During routine maintenance work last Friday, a maintenance worker closed a valve and then forgot to reopen it once the work was complete, according to associate superintendent Steve Smith. An investigation is underway.

Carbon monoxide detectors are now in place at Finch Elementary while students attend classes at nearby Kennedy Middle School.

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