CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – The Coral Gables Courthouse is set to reopen Thursday but what happened inside that building remains a medical mystery.
The courthouse has been closed since employees became sick more than a week ago. In order to re-open the building must receive re-occupancy clearance from the Miami-Dade General Service Administration.
Until then, all courthouse operations are being handled in alternate locations.
Previously it was reported that on October 20th, nine days after the building was tented for termites, seven employees were hospitalized with sore throats, irritated eyes and runny noses. Now the county says some employees did report a bad reaction on the day they reoccupied the building on October 11th. In all, 26 employees have filed claims with the risk management division of the county’s internal services department.
Despite more than a week of “environmental testing”, officials still don’t know 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.
“In 32 years that we have been in business, we have never seen anything like this happening or any complication 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.
Lester Sola, the Director of the county’s Internal Services Department took a tour of the courthouse Friday. He said 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.”
For future updates and further information on re-scheduled hearings, visit www.jud11.flcourts.org.