Preliminary Tests; No Asbestos or Black Mold in Buffalo Police Station

8:53 AM, Feb 17, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Preliminary Tests Back

  • Inspectors on roof of D District Police in Buffalo

BUFFALO, NY - According to preliminary results from environmental consultants hired by the Buffalo Police Department and the City of Buffalo, asbestos and black mold were not found in the D-District precinct.

Consultants and inspectors were seen on the roof of the D-District precinct in Buffalo, Tuesday. City of Buffalo officials ordered the D-District precinct to be evacuated after quality test results showed poor air inside the 14-year-old structure.

Files were taken out of the precinct but police would not comment on the situation.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and the Buffalo Police Department held a press conference Tuesday to discuss preliminary findings.  While the Mayor and the Interim Commissioner of Buffalo Police Dan Derenda reiterated the precinct was closed immediately upon learning of a complaint filed by an employee, the police brass have yet to announce how the department will handle any future health related cases from officers who worked in D-District.

Sources tell Channel 2, at least ten Buffalo Police Officers or staff have been diagnosed with everything from cancer to chest infections throughout the past 5 to 10 years.  While it's unclear if the illnesses are directly related to the mold problems, city officials took no chances and temporarily relocated D-District services to School 63 on Lisbon Street.  Police officers spent the weekend cleaning out lockers and offices to set up at the now closed school.

An Environmental consultant hired by the city told reporters Tuesday that while fungi air quality tests were taken at random in the building, mold underneath drop ceilings was not specifically tested.  Kevin Keller of Leader Environmental Consulting said mold samples taken inside the building showed a presence of some mold, but it was the same type of mold found on the outside of the building.  Keller did not name the type of mold found.  Officials say final results could take weeks to come back.

"Is there a chance there is still something potentially dangerous in the air that you could find when these other results come out?" 2 On Your Side's Josh Boose asked Keith Keller, spokesman for Leader Group, the group doing the testing.

"Is there a chance there could be a level of dangerous VOC's in that building? I guess until we get the results back there's a chance," said Keller. "Is there a likelihood based on what we know about the building, I don't think so."

Buffalo Common Council Member Joe Golombek tells Channel 2, there are complaints on record about the D-District precinct dating back to 1997. Golombek says the problem was discovered when a Buffalo Police Officer wrote a letter to the union, stating that there was more than 3 feet of standing water in the basement and mold could be found throughout the building and that this police officer was concerned for the ten or so officers who were ill.  We're told some of the illnesses include breast, pancreatic and testicular cancer.

Sources say city workers were sent in to clean up the water, less than a week after the police union received the complaint.  Channel 2 was also told that the Buffalo Police Department hired a professional cleaning company to properly clean air ducts at the station.  Buffalo Police services and officers were in the building at the time of the clean up effort.

2 On Your Side showed photos of the inside of the "D" District police station to the chief of medicine for Kalieda Health.

"Is there a chance this can be very dangerous, this mold in particular?" 2 On Your Side's Josh Boose asked Dr. Stanley Schwartz, "The chance is low, the chance is low," he replied.

Dr. Schwartz says no one will know for sure what kind of mold this is until it's tested. But on average, he says most molds are not life threatening unless someone has a compromised immune system or allergic reaction to it in some way.

"When one sees a variety of different cancers showing up at a particular site it makes you question is that mold related or is it just a blip that occurs," said Dr. Schwartz. "There are these statistical blips that occur, you have these outbreaks of cancer or infections in a particular area and it's a statistical fluke."

Councilman Golombek says if the mold is related to those illnesses, the report technicians, the people who work inside the building all day, would also be sick. And so far, none have come forward.

But Dr. Schwartz says closing it down altogether, to play it safe, was a good idea.

Golombek says the 14-year-old precinct was closed Friday after air quality tests showed it to be too hazardous for officers.  Mold samples were taken last week and a spokesperson for Mayor Byron Brown says results could be available as soon as Tuesday.

Sources say the City of Buffalo Water Department tested water at the D-District precinct every 2 weeks.

Click on the video link above to see Marissa Bailey's exclusive video inside the D-District precinct.

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