A clogged neutralisation tank in the sewer system at the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) has been identified as the cause of the fumes that have been affecting staff for more than six months.
External assistance was sought and the specialists who were called in to review the situation would be working to have the matter rectified over the weekend.
The problem was discovered by experts from Meditron who suspected that the fumes were coming from below the building. Personnel at the hospital complex had previously attributed the origin of the problem to the air condition unit, which is situated in the main laboratory of the LHC.
Chief Executive Officer of LHC Gordon Gumbs said that when the building blueprint was examined yesterday morning, it was noticed that there was a draining system running under the floor of the laboratory. Included in the drainage system was the neutralisation tank, which drains the waste from the laboratory to the septic tank.
A close examination found that the neutralisation tank was clogged and was likely to send the fumes into the department whenever it belches.
Gumbs said that he was informed that the blockage was the root of the problem and the experts would be working to have the matter rectified over the weekend.
Operations at the main laboratory of the LHC were at a standstill on Wednesday and completely suspended on Thursday after the fumes sent persons scampering from the room. LHC said that they had exhausted all their local resources and expertise on the problem up to Wednesday.
And following threats of industrial action, workers were relocated and the department was closed.
In the wake of the threats, the management of the LHC took a decision to source external assistance.
Contact was made with the Ministry of Labour’s Occupational Health and Safety Division, the Linden Fire Service and the E and E Air Sampling Company (recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency) and all of them were expected at the institution on Wednesday.
This did not materialise as planned but experts from Meditron turned up on Thursday and made the discovery.
Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) Regional Representative Maurice Butters said that the union was not officially contacted by the LHC management about the development. He said that their members communicated to the union that the management had informed them that the source was identified and would be worked on over the weekend.
“I understand from reliable sources that the occupational health and safety department were aware of the clogged neutralisation tank,” said Butters. He added he was informed that the procedure of occasionally flushing the system was neglected by the responsible department, which claimed that the chemicals needed were very expensive and were never bought since the hospital became operational.
Butters indicated that the workers would remain in their temporary locations until it is confirmed that the problem had been permanently resolved.
Workers and the union have highlighted the problem of fumes affecting workers in the main laboratory of the LHC since December of 2010. Operations at the department had to be interrupted for several hours daily whenever the problem surfaced.