- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (AP) - Military officials say 4,000 feet of mold-infested ductwork has been removed from the U.S. Strategic Command’s new headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base.

The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1YRTNCN ) reports that earlier construction glitches and the mold problems have extended the $1.2 billion project by 11 months and potentially “tens of millions” of dollars.

“It’s a troubled project,” said Col. John Henderson, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District, which is overseeing the StratCom project. “None of this is good news. But we’re working through it.”

Last September, the corps’ quality-assurance inspectors found the mold in the insulation lining some ducts and temporarily paused installing parts of the heating and cooling system. Engineers determined mold was located in about 7 percent of the building’s ductwork.

“We removed all that at great cost and disruption,” Henderson said. “We have to guarantee that this isn’t going to be a sick building.”

The corps and the U.S. Strategic Command have said that building contractor KiewitPhelps should be held responsible for the damage because the company failed to monitor temperature and humidity at the job site.

The company declined a request for an interview, but company spokesman Tom Janssen released a brief statement.

“(KiewitPhelps and the corps) differ on the cause and financial responsibility, and the subsequent schedule and cost impacts,” Janssen said. “We are working collaboratively. …to settle these issues.”

The corps and KiewitPhelps agree that the company’s early estimate of $55 million in expenses for the mold problem was probably too high. The cost is still being added up.

But the corps already asked Congress last year to raise its authorized spending for construction from $564 million to $601 million because of earlier setbacks and construction changes.

Henderson said the building is scheduled for occupancy in October 2017. It was originally expected to be ready at the end of 2016.

___

Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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