An air quality test has confirmed the growth of mold at the Vieux Fort police station and remedial efforts are in train.
Police Commissioner Severen Moncherry made the disclosure in an interview with St Lucia Times.
He said he has assigned the second in command at the station to identify a place nearby where three of the departments that are most affected can be relocated, while expert recommendations on dealing with the problem can be implemented.
According to the police chief, because of the type of remedial work that will be done it would not be suitable to have the officers operating from their current departments at the station.
He explained that a few months ago it was brought to his attention that water was seeping into the Vieux Fort station.
Moncherry recalled that his administrative officer, the assistant administrative officer and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Dorian O’Brian, were dispatched to the station.
He said following the visit, the National Insurance Property Development & Management Co Ltd (NIPRO) which controls the building was contacted.
“NIPRO came did some work on the roof but some time ago we had some heavy rains and we realised that the situation had not been remedied,” the police commissioner observed.
He told St Lucia Times that around the same time, it was brought to his attention that some people at the Vieux Fort station were falling sick, possibly as a result of mold.
Moncherry said H&L Environmental Services was contacted and did an air quality test.
“On Wednesday last week I got a call that another person had fallen ill and that it may have been associated with something at the station. Coincidentally that same day I got the report from H&L -somebody came the following day to discuss the report with me and my executive,” the police chief stated.
He said he went to Vieux Fort the same day and based on the report, had a meeting with the management of the station and a few officers who were on duty at the time.
“Whereas there is the presence of mold growth a number of recommendations were made,” Moncherry noted.
He said three of the departments are mainly affected by the mold growth.
Moncherry told St Lucia Times that the mold growth has been linked to the leaking roof and condensation from the air conditioning unit at the Vieux Fort station.
“As a result, the three departments that we saw the growth being more pronounced I assigned the second in charge of the station, the ASP, to try to relocate those departments while we try to follow some of the recommendations by H&L, one of the main ones being a complete changing of the roof.”
“Because that is not something that you could just undertake in one day my executive and I met with NIPRO; we are supposed to be meeting with the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance. I have reported the situation to both my PS and my Minister,” he disclosed.
Moncherry asserted that it is not as if nothing is being done about the situation at the Vieux Fort station.
“Like I said we met with NIPRO – a lot of the lighter work they have promised to start it from today. They promised to do some of the smaller things to remedy the situation but we have made arrangements for the three departments mainly affected to be moved to another location for them to identify – a place nearby,” he explained.
“One of the main things is for a lot of cleaning to be done. What we have decided to do in the short term is some cleaning. In the long term the roof would have to be changed because even if we were to do all the cleaning at the station if the main source of the problem is not tackled it will be something that will reoccur,” the police commissioner told St Lucia Times.
He also responded to reports that members of the public who visit the Vieux Fort station are being affected by the mold growth.
“I have no information or knowledge of any outsider or members of the public being affected, because from the report there is no indication that there is any problem in the general area where people make reports,” Moncherry said.
He stated that based on the H&L report, the growth of mold can be dealt with.
“It is not a situation where the building is not fit for use or something of this sort,” Moncherry told St Lucia Times.