- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State officials have confirmed that the Wallace State Office Building in Des Moines is undergoing environmental tests for the presence of lead.

Cardno ATC, an engineering and testing company, will conduct tests over the next several days, the deputy director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services told The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1wSkQ45 ).

“This firm will evaluate the results of their tests and make recommendations,” Caleb Hunter said.

There are no plans to relocate the building’s 494 state employees, he said.

“We are likely going to evaluate the whole building and see what areas would have cause for additional testing,” Hunter said.

The building, erected in 1978, has been plagued with structural and mechanical problems for decades, the newspaper reported, and a state public employees’ union leader has called for officials to either tear it down or gut and rebuild it.

Many state employees who work there have said they suffer from “sick-building syndrome,” and complain of headaches, sore throats, nausea and other ailments. The building has also had mold and plumbing problems and has been described as too noisy, with some areas lacking privacy.

Danny Homan, president of Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said Friday he’s tired of hearing excuses about the building.

“It is time to do what is right,” Homan said. “Shut the building down and find someplace else for those employees to work, and quit exposing the public and employees to daily hazards in that building.”

Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed plans by state lawmakers last year to reconstruct the Wallace Building at an estimated cost of $40 million to $50 million.

State Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, who chairs an Iowa Senate infrastructure budget subcommittee, said he wasn’t surprised to hear that possible lead contamination is being evaluated.

“We need to get after it and invest in some new buildings to offset what we have going there,” he said.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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