Testing times at old Janeway

Hazardous materials were supposed to be removed before hospital was demolished

Rob Antle rantle@thetelegram.com
Published on April 16, 2009
Photo at left, a worker wearing disposable white coveralls and a respirator operates an excavator at the old Janeway hospital site this week. Demolition of the former building (pictured at right in 2007) began in September 2009. - (Left and bottom) Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram; (Right) Telegram file photo; Bottom photo, Workers continue to clear rubble and debris from the site of the old Janeway hospital in Pleasantville.

The provincial government has confirmed it hired an environmental consultant to test for hazardous materials on the site of the old Janeway in Pleasantville after the former hospital was demolished.

Any hazardous materials were supposed to be removed before demolition.

The government won't release the results of that environmental report, saying it would be "premature" to do so.

Officials dodged repeated questions about when they would make the report public.

The provincial government has confirmed it hired an environmental consultant to test for hazardous materials on the site of the old Janeway in Pleasantville after the former hospital was demolished.

Any hazardous materials were supposed to be removed before demolition.

The government won't release the results of that environmental report, saying it would be "premature" to do so.

Officials dodged repeated questions about when they would make the report public.

"The Janeway building, like others of its age, contained certain hazardous materials (i.e. asbestos), which my department was well aware of prior to demolition," Transportation and Works Minister Trevor Taylor said in a prepared statement.

"Those materials were to be removed and disposed of properly as part of the demolition process. Due to the appearance of what could possibly be asbestos, Transportation and Works engaged a consultant after demolition to assess to what extent those hazardous materials might remain on site."

According to Taylor, the government hired local consulting firm Kavanagh and Associates Ltd. to do that assessment.

He said Kavanagh was aided by a group called Lex Scientific Inc.

But the government won't discuss what the consultants found at the old Janeway.

"This department just recently received the consultant's report, last week to be exact," Taylor said. "The document is currently being reviewed and to release it before that process is complete would be premature."

Asked whether there are any safety concerns related to work at the old Janeway site, Taylor replied, "Demolition and removal of the old Janeway hospital is no different than any other building demolition carried out by this government. We engaged a company certified to deal with hazardous materials and we fully expect contractors to ensure worker safety and provide workers with all the necessary safety equipment.

The Occupational Health and Safety branch of Government Services also has conducted inspections to ensure the safety of workers on site."

The Department of Government Services said there is no stop-work order in effect at the Pleasantville site.

The department could not provide specifics on what stop-work orders have been issued since demolition began in September, according to spokeswoman Vanessa Colman-Sadd. The officers who had that information were in training and unavailable all week, she noted.

But the department could confirm that it has previously stopped work at the site for issues such as lack of appropriate personal protective equipment, inadequate asbestos control procedures and worker training.

In December 2007, the province awarded Kelloway Construction of St. John's a $924,129 contract for the environmental remediation and demolition of the former Janeway hospital building.

Kelloway Construction did not return a Telegram message before deadline Wednesday.

The work was expected to take up to a year, a government news release noted in late 2007. Demolition work began in September 2008.

Taylor acknowledged the company is "somewhat behind schedule" completing the contract, and work is continuing to remove debris and recyclables from the site.

That work is expected to wrap up within weeks.

"The department has re-engaged Kavanagh and Associates to continue monitoring work at the site to ensure any hazardous materials are handled properly," the minister noted.

In 2007, the province announced the hiring of a real-estate broker to sell off former Janeway properties sandwiched between Virginia Park and Pleasantville, but pulled them off the market last year.

Officials indicated last month the government now has "a number of major infrastructure projects under consideration" for the site, and is now pondering its options.

rantle@thetelegram.com