Employees express concerns as mold remediation begins at Springfield courthouse

On Thursday morning, employees at the courthouse reported to work as usual, but their offices looked a little different.
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Employees at the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield report that mold remediation efforts have begun, but although that sounds like a step in the right direction, employees said they are concerned now more than ever for their health.

Employees said they returned to work last week and saw some work had been done inside their offices. However, they said that work only exposed the fiberglass insulation where mold has been growing.

On Thursday morning, employees at the courthouse reported to work as usual, but their offices looked a little different.

“We were getting phone calls from employees at the courthouse that the trial court was doing remediation along the fan coil units,” said Attorney Laura Mangini, who is representing employees in a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Trial Court.

Mangini told Western Mass News she received numerous phone calls about the work being done. Remediation efforts had started overnight and workers were removing fiberglass insulation.

George Noel was receiving similar phone calls. He’s the business manager of OPEIU Local 6 and represents office workers at the courthouse, so he decided to check it out for himself and gave Western Mass News photos he took of the insulation thrown in the dumpster outside the courthouse.

“I saw a lot of clear plastic bags with debris in it. I couldn’t say for sure if there was any asbestos, but there is certainly fiberglass insulation that was discarded,” Noel explained.

Although the work is being done overnight, Mangini and Noel are both concerned about the health hazards for employees when they return to work the next day as the fiberglass is an allergen and the removal of it may expose employees to other hazardous substances, like mold. That’s why Mangini sent a letter to the attorney general’s office, asking them to pause their remediation work.

“Our main concern was that we wanted to make sure that if there were some employees that were going to have some type of reaction, that they would have some alternative to work somewhere else,” Mangini noted.

She also wanted to make sure that the material being removed is tested, so that they may have those results for evidence later on.

“We also want to see if there’s asbestos or PCBs in there because that’s a whole different ballgame if there are PCBs in that building,” Mangini said.

The A.G. did stop the work from continuing inside the courthouse. Noel, however, wants employees to be relocated away from the building as soon as possible while this work is being done. He said those who have reached out to him are extremely worried about their health.

“No one should have to get sick, no one should have to die in order to work. It’s not acceptable. Our employees, and the public for that matter, shouldn’t be treated like canaries in a coal mine,” Noel explained.

We reached out to the courthouse for more information on these remediation efforts, but as Monday was a state holiday, we did not hear back.