Recovery Centre being temporarily relocated to deal with creosote vapour problem: Eastern Health

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Eastern Health president and CEO Vickie Kaminski. — Telegram file photo

Eastern Health announced today that services normally provided by the Recovery Centre at Building 532 in Pleasantville will be temporarily offered from the Waterford Hospital effective Thursday at 3 p.m.

A news release notes the move is a precautionary measure while air quality testing is completed at Building 532 to test for levels of creosote vapour in the building.

“Based on the information we have currently, there is no need to be concerned as the levels of creosote exposure at the building have been low and employees have never been in direct contact with the source of the creosote,” Vickie Kaminski, President and CEO of Eastern Health, said.

“However, since it could be early in 2013 before we receive the results of the air quality testing, we have made the prudent decision to relocate our staff and clients.”

Individuals needing assistance or access to the Recovery Centre are asked to call 752-4980 for assistance.

Creosote is a substance that was used as a wood preservative on the structural beams, joists and underside of the subfloor of Building 532 when it was first constructed over 50 years ago.

Eastern Health discovered possible exposure to creosote vapour in Building 532 in 2007, after employees reported an odour.

Air quality testing in 2008 and 2009 indicated levels of creosote vapour below the minimal acceptable level for people working out of the building during a normal work day and work week.

Over the last six months, several employees working at the Recovery Centre have developed  rashes from an unknown origin. As a result, Eastern Health launched an Occupational Health and Safety Inspection in November. This inspection was conducted by an Industrial Hygienist with Service NL. It was concluded that there was a possibility that exposure to low levels of creosote vapour may be responsible for the rashes.

 “Infrastructure Support has also begun work to improve the ventilation system in Building 532, which will further help reduce the smell created by the creosote and exposure to creosote vapour,” said George Butt, Vice-President responsible for Infrastructure Support.

“We will continue to do what is necessary to address this issue and ensure that Building 532 is environmentally safe for further use once we have received the results of the air quality testing.”

Eastern Health made the decision to move inpatients and staff as a precautionary measure while extensive air quality testing is completed and a toxicology expert is consulted, which could take up to eight weeks. Employees who have presented with rashes have been seen by a dermatologist.

Once Eastern Health receives the results of the air quality testing, it will make a permanent decision on the location of the Recovery Centre.

Other services offered at Building 532 including the Rowan Centre and the Methadone Clinic will continue to be offered at Building 532 as these services are located in a new part of the building where there is no creosote.

Organizations: Recovery Centre, Waterford Hospital, Service NL Rowan Centre Methadone Clinic

Geographic location: Eastern Health, Pleasantville

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