Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The federal government continues to screw up everything it touches. From a press release I received today:

PRESS RELEASE October 23, 2007

Contact: Donna Cole, NATCA Local GRR President


GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Two years after receiving air traffic controller's industrial hygenist report from Wondermaker's Environmental, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally admitted existence of the toxic mold during demolition work in the Grand Rapids radar room, called a TRACON. Initiated two years ago after poor press stemming from the voluminous report submitted to the FAA by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the demolition was to repair numerous roof and building water leaks and damaged interior ceilings, walls and floors in the safety-critical control tower. For nearly a decade, air traffic controllers have suffered numerous health problems due to working in the contaminated Tower and TRACON.

Last month NATCA received summaries of three-years worth of asbestos air monitor readings from 1997 Asbestos Abatement Reports on the Tower. These reports indicate the FAA tested over thirty sites (six pages of documentation) in the Tower for asbestos. Not all sites could possibly be tested, but abatement or encapsulation was completed on known asbestos during the 1996/1997 Tower refurbish. At that time, the air traffic controllers were moved to a temporary tower to avoid asbestos contamination and disruption of air traffic services to pilots. At this contentious time in air traffic labor/management history, no temporary tower was utilized. The FAA will not acknowledge the extensiveness of asbestos issues, current toxic mold problems and continues to refuse the air traffic controllers request perform air monitoring testing to find the level of contamination of asbestos and toxic mold in the areas under demolition and repair.

The old tests indicate that as far as the former 1990's servicing company knew, after refurbish all areas tested in the Tower were below 0.01 allowable asbestos levels, with the caveat to maintain allowable levels pending no further disturbances of the tested areas. There were several areas that were labeled as "unknown" hazards, i.e. they were not tested and the substance in the materials could be asbestos containing materials.

The FAA's own OSHA "specialist" identified one area as asbestos containing - window sill caulk. That area actually tested negative by local firm Fishbeck, Thompson, and Carr last month. NATCA was not allowed to participate in testing, contrary to law. Two other recently FAA tested sites, one on the roof top and one on the fifth floor, tested positive for asbestos. The FAA OSHA "specialist" is the same person who claimed mold in HVAC ventilator was dust.

The FAA has decided they will not do any air monitoring for asbestos. The manager at Grand Rapids, Jim Munslow, will not let the Union perform air monitoring at the Union's expense, violating two FAA Orders, two FAA agreements, and an imposed work rule, as well as OSHA regulations.

For government liability alone, performing air monitoring will prevent future liability issues. The air monitoring itself is inexpensive, in contrast to the huge liability from killing or injuring employees. It would make financial sense to conduct testing at this time. As contractors tear down the Tower and TRACON walls, ceilings and HVAC duct, which has been previously tested as positive for several types of hazardous mold and allegedly abated for asbestos, air monitoring would ensure the safety of the air traffic controllers. Mold remediation is expected to be performed in light of last nights declaration, but the FAA has not moved forward with mold remediation as of last night.

Employees working in this Tower have been denied the allowance of a safe place to work due to the FAA's refusal to follow their own regulations, laws and processes. Federal OSHA, responsible for federal employees health and safety, cannot step into the process until an air traffic controller becomes sick or dies, per their assessment of the situation yesterday. The possibilities of contamination from multiple sources is everywhere, and there is no accountability for what will happen to the lives of each employee or the aircraft they move safely through their airspace each day.

The FAA was unable to include an address to repeated interior flooding from HVAC base units on site, creating a replay of the interior damage. They agree the base units need to be moved from an exterior wall (where the pipes freeze and burst) to an interior wall, but the claim there is not enough funding in this project to fix interior flooding too. In spite of a known problem, the likelihood of the TRACON being flooded again is very high, which means all the work that is being done now will have to be redone. It has been two years to get the current issues moved from identification stage to repair.

The FAA intends to meet Wednesday with its own specialist and advise employees and contractors why it refused to perform asbestos air monitoring and mold remediation procedures in light of all the documentation indicating the building structure failures, including dozens of previous asbestos sites and toxic mold sites.


Post a Comment

<< Home