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Mold displaces 200 and counting at Joint Base San Antonio

Personnel from the 502nd Civil Engineering Group remove carpet severely impacted by mold at Joint Base San Antonio on July 25-26, 2019.

ALEJANDRO DELGADO/U.S. AIR FORCE

By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 29, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas — Mold in dorms forced about 200 airmen into new housing over the weekend at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas, after online scrutiny of living conditions triggered base leadership to conduct a full review of all facilities. As inspections continue at the Air Force’s largest dormitory program, officials anticipate the number of displaced airmen to grow.

The base commander ordered Wednesday a full review of dormitories within 24 hours. Now, follow-up inspections continue, and some remediation has begun in those rooms where mold was found to be a severe problem, Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander, said in a statement released Monday.

About three-quarters of permanent-party dorms have been inspected with 16% showing a presence of mold, according to the statement. Inspection of the remaining permanent party dorms should be completed Tuesday.

In the technical training dorms at Lackland Air Force Base, part of the joint base, ongoing inspections have revealed that 28 rooms in Building 1215 have mold. Those inspections should finish by Aug. 8.

The 502nd Civil Engineering Squadron is treating rooms “with a regimen that includes a thorough bleaching process as well as utilizing dehumidifiers, removing and replacing carpet with vinyl planks, and installing ceiling fans,” Lenderman said. They are repainting these rooms to “refresh” them.

The work is expected to take about two months and required about 200 airmen from the permanent and training dorms to relocate to other dorms or on-base lodging, she said.

“We anticipate and are preparing to meet additional relocation requirements at Lackland. Base leadership is actively working a plan that includes relocating residents to other on-base facilities and, potentially, off-base,” Lenderman said.

About one week ago, photos began surfacing on “Air Force amn/nco/snco,” a Facebook group page popular with enlisted Air Force personnel. More than 290,000 people follow the page.

The photos were said to be posted by current and former residents of Lackland and showed mold growing on shower walls, bedding, sneakers, backpacks and uniforms. In the days following the initial posts, more photos were published.

Over the weekend came screenshots of messages from airmen that “GI parties” — cleaning duty — had been scheduled for dorm residents and no protective gear had been provided. Lenderman took to Facebook as well, claiming reports of “GI parties” were untrue and that no one had been asked to do any “non-routine” cleaning.

Located in south central Texas, Joint Base San Antonio includes Lackland and Randolph Air Force bases, the Army’s Fort Sam Houston and eight other locations. It’s home many training programs and has representation of all branches of the military. It also has the largest dormitory program in the Air Force, with 77 dorms and the capacity of house 27,000.

“There are many factors that affect our ability not only to maintain our dormitories but also to sustain them,” Lenderman said. “As we work to correct these near-term issues, we are also continuing to work our long-term 502 [Air Base Wing] Dorm and Training Campus Improvement Plan to mitigate risk and support JBSA mission execution.”

For any resident with continuing mold issues, she said concerns can be raised at all levels of leadership. If residents don’t feel satisfied with the way complaints are addressed, she offered a direct line to her by emailing RandolphPublicAffairs@us.af.mil using the subject line “FeedbackFridays.”

thayer.rose@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rose_Lori

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