CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – The Coral Gables Courthouse is set to reopen next Wednesday but what happened inside that building remains a medical mystery.
It happened inside what is one of the busiest courthouses in Florida.
It was shut down after 40 employees were evacuated and seven of them were rushed to two area hospitals on October 20th, complaining of sore throats, runny eyes and irritated noses.
After a tour of the building on Friday by Lester Sola, the Director of the county’s Internal Services Department, county spokeswoman Suzy Trutie told CBS4 the building could reopen. And County courts spokeswoman Eunice Sigler said that would happen on Wednesday.
But Trutie said the Miami-Dade Health Department still was not sure what made the employees sick.
The courthouse was tented for termites on October 8th by Bug Busters, Incorporated. It reopened on October 11th, after Miami-Dade’s pest control manager and Bug Busters assessed and cleared the building. Nine days later, Coral Gables Fire Rescue responded to the building, after the employes said they were sick.
“In 32 years that we have been in business, we have never seen anything like this happening or any complications like this happening some 9 days after a building is cleared,” said Vicky Rudasill, the Officer Manager of Bug Busters.
Rudasill told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “I’m not thinking it is any gas that we use. It may be something in the courthouse. We’ve done tests and it comes up clear.”
Experts interviewed by D’Oench agree that it very unusual for people to get sick from chemicals used in fumigations some nine days after homes or buildings are cleared.
Experts told D’Oench that generally, the chemicals used—-Vikane gas and the warning agent, Chloropicrin—generally dissipate within 48 hours of use.
“It’s a gas they use but there is no residue,” remarked Sola on his tour of the courthouse. Sola told D’Oench the courthouse had twice been thoroughly cleaned and said all the rugs had been shampooed as well. “We have done everything possible to make sure this building is safe,” he said.
Samuel Slom, the Administrative Judge of County Court, Criminal Division, told D’Oench that safety comes first. “They’re making every effort to determine what happened and to make this courthouse safe for the public.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of people who tried to enter the Courthouse have been turned away and they are eager to use that courthouse again.
“I came here today to straighten everything out with getting a license tag,” said Jenny Perera of South Miami. “I’m extremely disappointed because now, we have a child, and now we have to drive downtown to the other court. This puts a big dent in our time and we need our courthouse back.”
Miami-Dade officials have even consulted with an expert with the University of Florida to try to solve this mystery, said Judge Slom. He said Judges and clerks have been kept busy in separate locations dealing with the workload from the Coral Gables courthouse. “I want everyone to know that our Judges are still at work,” said Slom.
For future updates and further information on re-scheduled hearings, visit www.jud11.flcourts.org
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