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Palm Coast Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 3 months ago

CDC to investigate Sheriff's Operations Center issues

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The FCSO has also hired an independent expert to evaluate previous testing.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The Centers for Disease Control's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will hold a site visit at the Flagler County Sheriff's Operations Center, where more than 30 employees have filed worker's compensation claims for symptoms they believe are related to the building.

The Operations Center, which was built on a prior hospital site, has been evacuated, and Sheriff Rick Staly has said he will not move his employees back into the building until further testing is conducted, even though multiple evaluations by experts hired by the county — which owns the building — have determined that the building is safe. An initial test showed some mold, but tests after mold remediation measures came up clean.

NIOSH participated in an Aug. 9 conference call with Staly, FCSO Chief Mark Strobridge, PBA representative Laura Kruger and County Administrator Craig Coffey and county staff members, according to an email from Staly to FCSO staff.

"After significant discussion, the county agreed to a site visit from NIOSH to the Operations Center," Staly wrote in the email. "In my opinion this is a great start for an outside and totally independent review of this situation. ... NIOSH has requested to meet with all affected employees and anyone else that would like to be interviewed on an individual basis."

Those meetings will last about 15 minutes.

"These meetings are voluntary, but I strongly encourage you to participate, if you feel you have been affected by the building," Staly wrote. "NIOSH needs to hear from you directly and all discussions will be confidential."

Dr. Randall Nett, chief of the NIOSH Field Studies branch, wrote in an email that NIOSH "will visit Flagler County and conduct a site visit/walkthrough (no sampling) on September 6 with informal interviews of employees to follow after the walkthrough, with additional employee interviews to occur on the morning of September 7."

The Sheriff's Office has also hired an expert, Robert Sweeney, Ph.D., "to review all building-related documents and testing from pre-purchase, renovation through the latest ESI’s testing and to provide me with an independent analysis and his professional opinion and recommendations," Staly wrote. "Dr. Sweeney has more than 40 years’ experience in his field and has consulted on many symptomatic buildings. We hope to have his review and report by August 20, 2018. Once it is received his report and any recommendations will be provided to you and the county."

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