Air Deemed Safe in County Building

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Orange County officials said Wednesday that air quality tests at a Social Services Agency building that social workers allege is making them sick show the building to be safe, according to the Orange County Register.

A group of workers at the building, located at 840 N. Eckhoff St. in Orange, have said in lawsuits and statements to the county Board of Supervisors that they believe toxic fumes emanating from the ground under the building are the cause of a range of health issues, including autoimmune disorders and birth defects.

In February, county officials acknowledged that soil samples taken from 10 feet under the building contained “levels warranting further investigation” of perchlorethene, an industrial solvent that is considered to be a likely carcinogen. Officials then ordered the air tests.

From the Register’s story:

Based on the air quality results, there are no plans to evacuate the building, said Terry Lynn Fisher, an agency spokeswoman. “The county’s goal is to put employees’ minds at ease and to make sure the building is safe,” she said.

Attached to Riley’s memo to employees Wednesday were letters from two outside consultants attesting to the safety of the building, citing the air quality tests.

The Orange County Employees Association, a union that represents workers in the building, last month asked the county’s Board of Supervisors to evacuate and close the building at 840 N. Eckhoff and an adjacent building at 800 N. Eckhoff.

“I really hope that the county is right and that it’s safe for employees to be at the Eckhoff building,” said Jennifer Muir, an OCEA spokeswoman, on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, given the county’s attitude to employee concerns leading up to the point, employees don’t have a whole lot of confidence in what the county is telling them.”

Voice of OC will talk to the parties involved and file an update on the situation.

— DAVID WASHBURN

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