tackles Central Administration Building mold
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Numerous complaints brought
forth over several years by government employees working in the Central
Administration Building were addressed this week by government officials,
who attempted to clear the air about the dangerously high mould
concentration in the building. Numerous employees reportedly have suffered
from mild to serious health problems directly related to a high
concentration of mould in the air. Since the mould was discovered,
some people could not even come to the building. Some departments have had
to look for other places for their employees to work, said Premier
Ralph Neal, whose office is located on the third floor of the west
atrium in the complex.
Because the issue has brought
a lot of heartaches and headaches to employees; the premier signed
off on an almost $2 million contract to properly seal the roofs of the
structures, so that moisture would not facilitate the growth of the
hazardous fungi that is being circulated through air vents throughout the
complex. In a press conference in the premier office Monday, Mr.
Neal and Gary Penn, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of
Communications and Works, signed a $1.9 million contract with Gerald Roy
of Roy Construction, Incorporated, to seal the building
Controversy over the leaky roofs dates back to 1993, when government
officials refused to open the complex, citing unfinished structural work
on the building. At the time, the complex project manager, Bennet
Smith, publicly stated that problems with the roof were among ;minor
items that needed to be addressed before the building was opened.
But the building would open without the roof repair, and 16 years
would pass before the issue is finally being addressed.
The Roof Replacement Project,
as coined by the Communications and Works Ministry, is the first major
action taken to address the issue since employees began to come forward
with health complaints around 2001, said Shaina Smith, president of the
Civil Service Association. The only thing that would come close,
but isn't as major, is the replacement of a chiller,; Ms.
Smith said of the single air conditioning unit that was replaced recently.
But fixing the leaks is only the first part of addressing the problem, Mr.
Penn said, adding that a larger plan called the Air Quality Improvement Project
exists to look at the need to replace the ventilation and air conditioning
units in the complex. However, officials at the press conference declined
to comment about any future plans to rid the building of the existing
mould problem. The contract, which was initially open for public tender,
signified the culmination of a long, arduous road that has been
going on and on practically without end,; the deputy PS said of the
ongoing problems that have forced some employees to relocate and be
treated for related illnesses.