Fumes force insurance division to shut down
June 14, 2010
The Nevada State Insurance Division was shut down Friday and employees sent home after fumes in the ventilation system made a number of workers ill.
Lynn Hettrick, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jim Gibbons, said the problem started last week when workers complained of noises in the walls and ceilings. The source of the problem, he said, was pigeons that got into the ventilation ducts.
“A company came in and sprayed a harmless food material” – grapeseed oil – “in the vents,” to drive the pigeons out, he said.
“But it was driving all the people out, too,” Hettrick said.
Numerous workers complained of headaches and discomfort after the spraying.
After early attempts to clear the oil from the system failed, Hettrick said, “we decided having people in there wasn’t right and decided to just close the building down.”
He said the owners of the rented building on Fairview Drive were working to clear the system but, until they succeed, the building will remain closed. The roughly 90 insurance division workers are on paid administrative leave until the building is fixed.
“It wouldn’t be fair to tell these folks go home and lose pay,” he said. “We’re trying to do the right thing by these folks.”