Fungus forces trailer disposal

by Jake Kapsner

Facilities Management employees lost a temporary office and storage space near the University Recreation Center before they could even use it.
University lawyers told Space Mobile and Modular Structures officials in a meeting Tuesday that the nine interconnected trailers leased in early April for the facilities office must be removed.
The demand stems from a health investigation that found an unacceptable fungal infestation in the trailers.
“It’s like any other product from a supplier. If it’s not acceptable, then you return it,” said University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg.
Now University officials are awaiting the vendor’s response.
University Environmental Health and Safety authorities found dangerous molds in the walls, ceiling and ducts of the one-story structure and declared it inhospitable April 27.
University industrial hygienists found mold types that aggravate pre-existing asthma conditions, said Craig Moody, a public health specialist.
The Zone Six section of Facilities Management, which is responsible for the Institute of Technology, must leave its current residence in the old Electrical Engineering building before asbestos removal begins in June.
Facilities Management officials hope to replace the trailers by leasing from a different vendor because they already made initial investments connecting water and electricity to the site.
The Zone Six section immediately halted plans to use the temporary office and storage space on the corner of Union and Beacon streets when Space Mobile and Modular Structures opted not to replace the mold-damaged property.
“We have not paid any rent, and we will not do so,” Rotenberg said.
On May 7, Zone Six officials sent a letter to the vendor asking them to remove the trailers, but they are still awaiting a response, said Keith Passow, facilities manager for Zone Six.
Officials from Space Mobile and Modular Structures refused to comment. Discretion is important to the case because the legal counsel is negotiating with the contractor to willingly remove the trailers, Passow said.
“It’s a pretty unfortunate situation,” he said.
In the meantime, Facilities Management faces a time crunch.
Even if the vendor promptly removes the old trailers, leasing new mobile space from one of three prospective contractors means the temporary site won’t be ready until fall quarter. Choosing a vendor requires 30 days and trailer delivery takes between eight and 12 weeks, Passow said.
“In a word, ‘ouch,'” he said.
Zone Six employees will likely start moving storeroom materials and maintenance equipment to the College of Liberal Arts Zone Five in Scott Hall for temporary storage.