Police station is 'not habitable'

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An expert says Hamilton Police Station is so contaminated with mould that it's uninhabitable, and officers working there should be wearing breathing masks.

Jack Thrasher conducted tests on behalf of Detective Constable Emmerson Donald, who is suing Government over sickness he claims was caused by mould.

Dr. Thrasher and fellow expert Michael Pugliese were so concerned by what they saw at the station, they donned protective masks.

  • <B>On the case: </B>Mould experts Michael Pugliese (left) and Dr. Jack Thrasher donned protective masks as they conducted tests at Somerset Police Station yesterday.

    On the case: Mould experts Michael Pugliese (left) and Dr. Jack Thrasher donned protective masks as they conducted tests at Somerset Police Station yesterday.


An expert says Hamilton Police Station is so contaminated with mould that it's uninhabitable, and officers working there should be wearing breathing masks.

Jack Thrasher conducted tests on behalf of Detective Constable Emmerson Donald, who is suing Government over sickness he claims was caused by mould.

Dr. Thrasher and fellow expert Michael Pugliese were so concerned by what they saw at the station, they donned protective masks.

He later told The Royal Gazette: "The condition of Hamilton Police Station is such that the officers who work in the station should be wearing protective breathing masks in order to protect themselves from the air contamination resulting from the microbial growth in the building. The building should be torn down, it is not habitable."

Det. Con. Donald's lawyer, Richard Horseman, obtained a court order from Chief Justice Richard Ground allowing experts to enter both Hamilton and Somerset Police Stations to gather evidence.

Det. Con. Donald has worked at both stations, and claims he's suffered kidney and internal problems as a result of mould there.

Dr. Thrasher, from California, received his Ph.D from UCLA School of Medicine and specialises in toxicology and immunotoxicology. He's been an expert witness in court cases.

Mr. Pugliese, a leading environmental scientist from Atlanta, styles himself as "Mike the Mold Guy" and has published books on the topic. He's also appeared in court as an expert witness.

Mr. Horseman said of the pair: "They went in to do a visual inspection first at Hamilton Police Station on Tuesday, and when they came back they felt it was necessary to wear protective clothing due to the environmental conditions.

"Since then, I've had other Police officers come forward with ailments, and we believe there are numerous officers experiencing illness."

Mr. Horseman said after the investigations are complete, Det. Con. Donald will seek to persuade the Supreme Court that Government is liable for his illness. If successful, he will go on to seek damages.

Det. Con. Donald, a married father-of-two, is originally from Jamaica and has worked in Bermuda since 2000. He and four other officers from the Caribbean were terminated from their jobs in March 2010 just days before they reached ten years of service, which would entitle them to permanent, pensionable positions.

The officers sued Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva as a result, and won a Supreme Court ruling in June that they should be allowed to keep their jobs.

In an affidavit sworn in that case, Det. Con. Donald said: "I believe that I am being dismissed as a result of my launching a lawsuit against the Bermuda Government for injuries I have suffered due to the infestation of mould at the various stations. I do not believe that this is simply a coincidence as I only just filed those proceedings and one month later, I am being dismissed from the Service."

Although the five officers won the case to keep their jobs, lawyer Mr. Horseman said the Commissioner has now launched an appeal, which will be heard in February 2011.

Det. Con. Donald's action over the mould issue comes after a long history of concerns over the environmental conditions at Bermuda's Police stations [see factfile].

Government is currently building a $91 million replacement for the Hamilton Police Station, which was supposed to open in August of this year. The last update given by Minister of Works and Engineering Derrick Burgess stated that the building was on course to be ready early next year.

Detective Inspector Grant Tomkins, of the Bermuda Police Association, was unwilling to comment on the specifics of Det. Con. Donald's case, other than saying: "The Association is aware of this issue with DC Donald and is supportive of him."

Speaking about working conditions at Hamilton Police Station in general terms, he said that Works and Engineering has engaged in clean-ups there.

"It has been a situation of concern to the Bermuda Police Association for a number of years, and obviously is being addressed with the new building going up. We're very grateful for remedial action which has been taken in recent years, but still aware that the situation is untenable in the long term," he said.

The Royal Gazette invited Mr. Burgess, along with Minister of Public Safety David Burch and Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva to comment on this story, via their respective press officers. No response was forthcoming from the Ministers by press time, and Mr. DeSilva declined to comment.

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