'Sick building' investigation ongoing at Grant Sawyer

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - State employees who work at the Grant Sawyer Building near Washington Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard have complained for months about their working conditions.

Reported issues include foul sewer odors, roof leaks and ceiling tile damage scattered around the building, air quality issues related to a suspected mold problem, pigeon poop and other pigeon parts possibly getting into the building by way of the roof and a failing heating and air conditioning system.

Contact 13 has learned the state's Public Works Division, the agency in charge of maintaining state buildings is facing major personnel shakeups.

The longtime State Public Works Division Administrator retired in December. The Deputy Administrator for Buildings and Grounds resigned earlier this month.

Sources say the facility manager for the Las Vegas region has been placed on administrative leave and a facility supervisor was reprimanded.

State officials could not comment on any discipline or performance issues, citing state law and confidential personnel matters.

 As for the growing list of maintenance-related problems at the Grant Sawyer Building, a state spokesperson released the following building assessment:

  • Roofing Systems:  Roof leaks were identified, repairs were completed on 1/23/18, and this work has been inspected.  Ongoing roof inspections will be conducted, especially during rain events, to verify that leaks have been properly addressed. In addition to the new heating and cooling central plant, a new roof is planned for the Grant Sawyer building by the end of this year.
  • Odor Issues:  There were reports of sewer odor in restroom areas.  A smoke test of the sewer vent system was conducted to identify leaks as part of the indoor air quality assessment.  This test was conducted the night of 1/17/18 so access to the restroom facilities was not hindered during business hours.  The smoke test identified one seal failure in a second floor restroom.  This seal was replaced.
  • Ceilings:  Ceiling tile water damage was identified throughout the building.  The primary cause of the water damage is related to heating and cooling system valve leaks.  The inspection uncovered at least 200 leaking valves.  The identified valves are being replaced and inspected as part of the heating and cooling central plant upgrade. This phase of the project will take approximately 12 weeks to complete. Occupants may notice buckets placed temporarily under water pipes in a concerted effort to prevent water damage to the building while staff work in these areas to replace the network of valves.
  •   Air Quality Inspection:  Previous tests of the building indoor air quality have shown no areas of concern, including no indication of mold. However, in an abundance of caution, because some building occupants continue to self-report building specific symptoms, the State Public Works Division has combined efforts with the Risk Management Division to enlist the help of contracted professionals such as a Certified Industrial Hygienist to gather additional environment samplings. These samples will be used to conduct a building wide study.  A viability culture of the samples is in progress which takes approximately 6 weeks.  A study of the results and final report is expected early April 2018. If the test results show any areas of concern, the Division of Public Works will use all measures necessary to remove and/or abate any identified issues.
  • Pigeon Activity:  Building occupants asked questions about the pigeons that roost on the building’s roof as a potential health concern.  State Public Works Division contracted with a subject matter expert to conduct an assessment and concluded there is no evidence the presence of pigeons is related to the self-reported building specific symptoms. However, in an abundance of caution, State Public Works is currently contracting with pest control companies to remove the pigeons from the roof area.  A live trap, transport, and release strategy is being proposed.  Also, a new roof design is underway to be less attractive to perching and nesting. Construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2018; this work will also incorporate a long term pigeon control system.
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