SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – Employees at the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield report that mold remediation efforts have begun, but while it appears to be a step in the right direction, employees said that they were more concerned than ever about their health.
Employees said they returned to work last week and found that work had been done inside their offices. However, they said the work only exposed the fiberglass insulation where mold had grown.
On Thursday morning, courthouse workers showed up for work as usual, but their offices looked a little different.
“We were getting phone calls from courthouse workers saying the lower court was making repairs along the fan coils,” said attorney Laura Mangini, who is representing the workers in a lawsuit against the court. Massachusetts Trial.
Mangini told Western Mass News she has received numerous phone calls about the work being done. Repair efforts had begun overnight, and workers were removing the fiberglass insulation.
George Noel was getting similar phone calls. He is the business manager for SIEPB Local 6 and represents office workers at the courthouse. So he decided to check it out for himself and gave Western Mass News pictures he took of the insulation thrown into the dumpster outside the courthouse.
“I saw lots of clear plastic bags with debris in them. I couldn’t say for sure if there was asbestos, but there was definitely fiberglass insulation that was thrown away” , explained Noel.
Although the work is done at night, both Mangini and Noel are concerned about the health risks to employees when they return to work the next day, as fiberglass is an allergen and its removal can expose employees to other hazardous substances, such as mold. That’s why Mangini sent a letter to the attorney general’s office, asking them to suspend their remediation work.
“Our main concern was that we wanted to make sure that if there were employees who were going to have a certain type of reaction, they would have an alternative to work somewhere else,” Mangini noted.
She also wanted to make sure the removed material is tested, so they can have those results for proof later.
“We also want to see if there’s any asbestos or PCBs in there, because it’s a whole different ballgame if there’s PCBs in that building,” Mangini said.
The GA prevented further work inside the courthouse. Noel, however, wants employees moved away from the building as soon as possible while this work is underway. He said those who have contacted him are extremely worried about their health.
“Nobody should have to get sick, nobody should have to die to work. It’s not acceptable. Our employees, and the public for that matter, should not be treated like canaries in a coal mine,” Noel explained.
We contacted the courthouse for more information about these remediation efforts, but since Monday was a holiday, we did not hear back.
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