Entire Story on How Mold Contamination Destroys Tourism Business
Portland – Scotia Prince Cruises has announced that the entire 2005 season is cancelled due to continued mold contamination at the City of Portland’s International Marine Terminal (IMT).
The EPA’s Center for Disease Control’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has conducted two separate evaluations of the IMT in the past month. Additionally Scotia Prince Cruises’ expert toxicologist, Dr. Richard Lipsey, has examined the building in coordination with NIOSH and again on April 1, 2005, a date the City of Portland had repeatedly committed to for delivery of safe and appropriate facilities.
In Dr Lipsey’s report on the status of the IMT as of April 1, 2005, he states, “Therefore, I do not feel the building is safe for occupancy and will only get worse until the procedure is done properly – a procedure which I doubt is possible in this building – as NIOSH said – it is not fit for human habitation and never was. This old warehouse is almost 100 years old and had railroad cars in. It was never intended to be used as offices for humans.”
In conclusion, after some 7 months under the City supervised remediation, this building is as flawed as it was in August 2004. “It is clear the IMT has not been safely remediated”, states Matthew Hudson, chairman, Scotia Prince Cruises. “Moreover, as Dr. Lipsey underlines, this is seven months after the City, in direct contradiction to our experts, said that (A) the public areas were safe; (B) SPC was ‘overreacting’ in evacuating our personnel and passengers; (C) the remediation (of the so-called ‘safe’ areas) would take (1) a week and then (2) would be complete by December 22 and then (3) by January 26, then (4) March 25, and then (5) would absolutely, definitely be completed by April 1.
“It is self evident that we cannot subject our employees or passengers to an unsafe environment. As such we are forced to cancel the 2005 season due to the City’s failure to meet its leasehold obligations to provide Scotia Prince Cruises with safe and appropriate facilities from which to operate.”
A Timeline in History
2001: Jack Elementary School in Portland is discovered to have airborne Stachybotrys (which is one of the most toxic molds known to produce mycotoxins) with a reported level of 100 CFU/cu. meter (Colony Forming Units/cubic meter). The City of Portland (City) closes the school, purports to remediate it, then without admitting a mold problem, declares the school unsafe due to structural deficiencies in the roof and tears the school down.
Aug 23, 2004: At 0900 hours Scotia Prince Cruises (SPC) hand delivered a notice to the City (Mayor and City Manager) that our testing had found high levels of dangerous molds, including Stachybotrys, in the International Marine Terminal (IMT). At the same time SPC provided the relevant lab results to the City and informed the City that the building was not safe. We also provided the lab results to the other users of the building (CBP and USCG) by 1030 hours. SPC prevented our employees and our clients from using the building and operated for 2 months from tents.
City officials immediately responded by saying we were overreacting and that we had invented the mold problem in order to sue the City.
The IMT has airborne Stachybotrys counts 54 times higher than that reported for Jack Elementary, which the City shut immediately, then remediated, then demolished. In addition, the IMT had 36 additional types of mold with airborne counts as high as 111,000 CFU/cu. meter. Many of them are toxic or pathogenic molds known to produce mycotoxins.
The EPA and Center for Disease Control definition of a ‘Sick Building’ is one in which 20% of the occupants are ill – 100% of SPC’s IMT employees exhibit symptoms of mold poisoning.
Sept 1, 2004: City issues a media release stating:
- public waiting areas at the International Marine Terminal [are] safe for public use, but that
- “Scotia Prince’s indoor office spaces [should] not be used until remedial steps are taken to lower the incidence of mold particles within these office spaces”, and
- the City is acting on a report by Turner Building sciences that includes 7 recommendations including “materials should be removed as outlined in accordance with guidelines published by the EPA and the New York Department of Health”. [Both these guidelines state the first step is to ‘Solve the moisture problem’ or ‘mold will re-grow.’]
- As for the public areas, Assistant City Manager Mead states to the media, “While the waiting area also has mold, the types found are harmless even in great quantities and do not call for any remediation”.
- The portions of the building used by US Customs, Immigration and Border Patrol have only low levels of mold.
Sept 16, 2004: In a letter, the City admits the offices in the warehouse section of the IMT are unsafe to occupy, but states, “public areas are safe and available for immediate use.” However the City plans to repair ‘water damage’ near public areas of the International Marine Terminal:
Assistant City Manager Mead states the repairs include replacing damaged tiles, wall structures and clean and service the HVAC and should be completed ‘early’ the week ending Sept 26.
Sept 17, 2004: Assistant City Manager Mead states to the media “We’re beginning today to do some remedial work on the International Marine Terminal in the eastern wing of the building where the passenger areas are. Even though we don’t believe there are any air quality concerns over there, the consultant did identify areas where there had been water damage from the (heating and air conditioning) system.”
Sept 24, 2004: City closes the entire IMT after Appledore Engineering Inc., who ‘looked at the pilings in August’, reported that “wood pilings were so rotten and weak that the western end of the terminal might collapse during a storm;” and “It is our professional opinion that repairs are neither practically nor economically feasible, due to the widespread advanced deterioration”.
- No explanation is given why this ‘opinion’ does not extend to the entire structure.
- City councilor Will Gorham, when shown Appledore’s report during a City Hall meeting states “They are so corroded and rotted they look like toothpicks”.
- While City councilors are given copies of the report, SPC has yet to see the Appledore report or another two City engineering reports done in the Spring of 2004 – the latter reports we presume did not mention anything about an imminent collapse of the building. Your company has been asking the City for its various engineering reports on the building for several years.
Nov 2004: Our IMT exposed employees are examined by a leading biotoxin (mold) physician and a wide variety of tests and blood work is done. Toxic mold illness was determined in every case except one – a member of the Yarmouth staff that had brief exposure to the IMT in 2001.
Dec 2004: Remediation of the ‘safe’ federal areas begins. City official tells federal employees that they only have molds that are safe and that the ‘bad’ molds are only on the Scotia Prince Cruises side of the building.
Dec 16, 2004: City Transportation Director Jeff Monroe states to the media “The mold remediation should be complete by the end of this month and the terminal ready for the Scotia Prince in the spring”.
Jan 6, 2005: Demolition of the warehouse section begins. [As of April 1, a ‘completion’ date to which the City has repeatedly committed, the replacement facilities were not near completion nor were they in accordance with your company?s minimum operating needs, needs which your company has repeatedly provided to the City.]
Jan 8, 2005: Assistant Port Director Ben Snow states to the media, “The unsafe part of the terminal is being demolished and the area with the mold has been upgraded and now only needs minor repairs.”
Jan 2005: We write to the City asking them to certify the building as safe to use; to provide us with the methods and materials used; to allow us access to test the building. City refuses all of these requests.
Jan 2005: City writes to us that the remediation is complete and the building is ready to be used. We write again and again asking for City to certify the building as safe to use; to provide us with the methods and materials used; to allow us access to test the building. City refuses all of these requests.
Mar 9-10, 2005: the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) part of the EPA’s Center for Disease Control, which had been contacted by SPC employees, CBP employees and P&O Ports, conducts a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) to determine if ‘workers are exposed to hazardous materials or harmful conditions’. The HHE includes a high level team consisting of 2 medical doctors and 2 environmental technicians. At the closing meeting, attended by several senior City officials, it was noted that no attempt to prevent water incursion at the IMT had taken place and as a result the IMT still leaked – water incursion through the roof; under doors; around windows and up through the floors plus condensation in the walls.
- The NIOSH team stated, “The whole structure is probably going to have a problem being made water tight, so there may always be water intrusion issues and therefore any time you have water intrusion issues you have mold recurrence issues.” The specific problem with the HVAC system, I don’t think that has been fixed. That’s due to the cooling capacity of the coils on the demand cooling in summer. The coils freeze up and overflow the condensate drain that runs down into those areas below you talk about – that’s certainly not been addressed.
- Dr. Lipsey queried, “Until water intrusion is stopped, HVAC fixed and roof fixed, is remediation really something that is top priority?”
- NIOSH replied, “Well, that’s a good question. You typically need to solve the water issues before you spend a lot of extra money doing a retrofit. In fact, we typically recommend that you fix the water intrusion first, then you remediate the mold – get it out of the building. Then, you go back in and do your new construction. That’s typically the ideal situation.”
- NIOSH also stated that it is widely understood by remediation professionals that the first step in remediating a building is to stop the leaks and that the failure to do so meant that proper remediation could not take place; and that the IMT – which was originally built in 1909 as a warehouse “is not and has never been, fit for human habitation.”
During the HHE, the City’s remediation contractor admits:
- to NIOSH that the building still has dangerous molds that have not been removed; and
- to Scotia Prince Cruises’ expert that nothing has been done to make building watertight because that was ‘not my job’. Notwithstanding these statements, the City continued to ‘remediate’ the IMT without preventing further water incursion, apparently continuing to use the same contractor.
Mar 29, 2005: NIOSH team returns for further evaluation and investigation of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) areas of the IMT and the CBP employees.
Mar 29, 2005: Port Director Monroe states to the media, “Major renovations at the International Marine Terminal should be completed by the end of this week.”
Mar 30, 2005, CBP notifies the City that CBP employees will evacuate the building, reportedly due to a variety of safety and health related concerns.
Mar 31, 2005: Monroe states to the media “New modular offices, a 6,000-square-foot warehouse and a newly converted waiting room at the International Marine Terminal are just about ready for the staff and visitors of Scotia Prince Cruises.”
- In truth the modular offices are not new and are not suitable – which the City knows; the warehouse is too small – which the City knows; and has no freezer and no cooler – which the City knows; the IMT waiting room is neither converted nor properly remediated nor safe and none of the facilities are close to being ready. As replacement offices, purportedly designed to meet our needs, the City provides old (3+ years) used portables designed for Salem State College, with no alteration of floor plan other than slight modification for a ‘ticket office’ that can only hold a small number of pax at a time.
- Additionally Monroe makes misleading comments about SPC including that SPC is “not sponsoring the traditional Muscular Dystrophy Association Smile-A-Mile fund-raising event this year.” [SPC has never been the sponsor of this event and only stepped in at the last moment last year to save the event – on which we lost money and still have $25,000 in a cash bond tied up in the event].
Apr 1, 2005: Federal employees move out of the IMT.
Apr 1, 2005: Scotia Prince Cruises inspects the trailers meant to be our offices and the temporary structure being erected meant to be our warehouse, bonded storage, freezer and cooler.
- The trailers (‘new’ according to the City’s media announcements) are not in accordance with our needs having been constructed for a state college several years ago.
- The temporary structure is not large enough for our needs as the City knows, having been ordered for the City’s own purposes for using the IMT as a freight terminal, and having been designed contrary to our requirements which the City had in their hands before ordering the structure.
- As of April 1, 2005 the structure has no freezer and no cooler.
Apr 1, 2005: SPC is granted access to the ‘remediated’ IMT, but is unable to conduct proper bulk sampling tests due to a continuing cover-up effort by the City which contravenes all recognized best practices in mold remediation.
Also Worth Knowing:
- In October 2005 your company asked the City to indicate not later than November 22, 2004 that the premises would be fully and safely remediated in time for the 2005 season and that the City provide a financial guarantee. The City provided a guarantee that safe premises equal to or better than those in place at the beginning of the 2004 season would be made available not later than April 1, 2005. It refused to meet the financial request thus forcing the company to make a multi-million dollar ‘bet’ on the City’s performance of its promises.
- The City has consistently stated that the entire building was safe, that the public areas were safe, that the federal areas were safe, that Scotia Prince Cruises had made untrue statements about the safety of the building and that the company intended to use those statements to gain money from the City.
- Lately the City has made statements to the public and to important commercial and other partners of Scotia Prince Cruises that whereas the City has done a ‘Herculean’ job to ‘renovate’ the IMT and provide ‘new’ offices and warehousing for Scotia Prince, conversely the company had no intention to operate the 2005 season and had spent only ‘10%’ of its usual advertising.
- Throughout this entire period since August 23 the City has each month continued to demand the full rent for the facilities, including the demolished portions and the unusable portions of the IMT to which access had been denied to the company between October 2004 and April 1, 2005.
- Notwithstanding its egregious conduct in allowing a health hazard to exist, then (a) denying its existence; (b) attacking and denigrating Scotia Prince Cruises for discovering it; (c) attempting a cynical effort over many months to deny then cover up the problem, in order to induce our staff, passengers and federal agencies to use the unsafe facility – the City at various times has also threatened legal action against your company for ‘non-performance’ if we did not operate the 2005 season.
Letters from Friends of the Scotia Prince.
Letter posted to this site May 18, 2005
In all of the years I have been helping mold victims who have had their health damaged, lost loved ones, their homes, or livelihoods due to the horrendous effects of pathogenic mold, I have never experienced a supervisor or owner of a business who cares more for their staff and customers than greed and cover-ups. I truly believe that karma affects us all in this plight of decisions of right or wrong and you are a true role model who will win in the end. God will be watching over you as you set a precedence for the rest of greedy, hypocritical, narrow-minded, feeble minded leaders we have in this country today. May your strong values of true maturity and valor teach a lesson to the gluttonous, egocentric, and ignorant supervisors, entrepreneurs, corporate CEO’s of this country because they will learn a very valuable lesson in the end.
What these companies, including the US Government are doing by exposing their valuable, faithful employees to T-2 mycotoxins; the exact same compounds that are in weapons of mass destruction, is nothing less than murder in the first degree. And the government just hires companies to write papers contrary to military papers that already expose the truth!
Mark, God is with you and guiding you all the way. Listen to his words as he enlightens you through this rough journey. There are few heroes in this new millennium. You are first on my list. If there is ever more that I can ever do, I will be happy to help in any way that I can.
E-mail received May 5, 2005
As per our conversation, and your letter regarding the 2005 sailing season, please return our equipment (4 plus 1 spare, hole card readers) at your earliest convenience. If you would like, we can issue a UPS call tag once the units are boxed and ready for pick up, just call me and we will take care of it.
We are sorry to hear that after all this time this ship will no longer be in operation, your cruise ship was one of the very few who always paid on time and it was a pleasure doing business with your company.
Wishing you best of luck on future endeavors.
Tech Art, Controller
E-mail received May 3, 2005
We are members of the Captain’s Club and so look forward to our annual cruises aboard your ship. We usually make at least two trips a year. Last year we sailed to our family reunion and took a 3 day getaway.
We were extremely saddened to hear of the cancellation of the 2005 season on NECN (New England Cable News). We had planned to attend ACADIE 400 & PORT ROYAL 400 at Annapolis Royal.
I just logged on the web site to read more and hope the 2005 season had been salvaged and was saddened to read that the SCOTIA PRINCE may be for sale.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE try to find an alternative to selling the ship. A sale I’m sure would mean the end of a wonderful experience and the demise of the cruise line.
Is there some way you could sail from Boston instead of Portland? Steamers in years past made that run, June’s grandfather came to Massachusetts from Nova Scotia on the ship BOSTON from Yarmouth, NS.
WE DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO TAKE THE CAT.
Rob and June Malonson
East Wareham, MA
E-mail received April 26, 2005
I, as many will deeply miss the Scotia Prince. My family has been sailing with her for years and had always looked forward every spring and fall to sail with her.
The Prince has something that no other boat has. It is/was familiar, charming, friendly, economical and comfortable. We always felt completely at home once we boarded.
I am in disbelief that Portland would throw away the best thing they’ve had going for them. But they did….
Without the Scotia Prince, the Portland waterfront is nothing–. Just an industrialized wasteland and a crumbling city.
When in Portland, we would always patronize restaurants and shops while awaiting to set sail. But I guess the people (officials) of Portland don’t want “strangers about”…
I certainly hope the Prince keeps sailing to Yarmouth but from a port that *appreciates* her and all the richness she brings between our two countries.
If bookings were down it was only because the people of New England took her for granted perhaps after taking several trips.
Why not try sailing from Boston, New York or Baltimore…..Let her sail from a more southern port and see how the bookings will shoot up.
Please don’t sell the Prince! She is a part of Yarmouth’s rich history and there will always be a need to link southern Nova Scotia to the east coast.
Sincerely Praying for the Prince,
The Powell Family
E-mail received April 26, 2005
We are Captain’s Club members who have sailed with you several times over the past several years and looked forward to future trips. I have read the information on your Web page and also the Portland Press Herald dated 4/25/05. In the article it says the Scotia Prince is up for sale. This leads us to believe there is no future for trips from Portland.
Is this the final song? If so, Thank You for some very nice trips.
R. J. Losty
Windsor Locks, Ct
E-mail received April 26, 2005
Very disappointed by the situation you have been put in by the City of Portland. I was looking forward to flying from Atlanta in order to sail to Nova Scotia. This was to be my 40th birthday celebration.
Obviously, my disappointment is quite minor relative to those who will suffer directly.
E-mail received April 26, 2005
It’s such a sad state of affairs when we know there’s a problem and we can’t work together to solve the problem instead of working against each other to only make it worse. We work all year and the one thing that keeps us going is knowing we’ll be seeing all our friends in Portland, on the Scotia Prince, and in Nova Scotia. Over the years we’ve come to know a lot of the staff on the ship and in the offices. Couldn’t ask for nicer more helpful friends. Also, the people in the restaurants and shops of Portland are all great folks. Once you get to Nova Scotia there is still another whole group of friends.
What needs to be done to set things right again? It’s totally unimaginable that the Scotia Prince will no longer be part of the Portland – Nova Scotia charm.
E-mail received April 22, 2005
First I want to say how very sorry I am for your circumstances at the Portland terminal and the attitude of the city – this must be costing you a great loss, plus it’s a great loss to us who would love to travel this way.
My first thought is to check into flying as an alternative.
My question is; do you still have the vacation packages available without the cruise?
Again, I’m very sorry this is happening to you.
To follow is a letter copied to us:
I was quite upset to hear that the City of Portland has decided to terminate its association with the Scotia Prince. One would think that with tourism being Maine’s top industry, the City would do all that it could to maintain good relations with a key partner.
Residents of all cities in the U.S. expect their city governments to follow regulations that have been put in place to protect them. How can the City of Portland expect its residents and visitors to be exposed to the dangers that mold in the Scotia Prince Terminal presents. You are offering Lead Hazard Control Grants and that’s great. What about taking care of the mold in the terminal?
Won’t you reconsider your decision? If not, it looks like we’ll all have to bypass Portland and go to Bar Harbor to get a ferry.
A Former Visitor to Portland
Dear Scotia Prince Cruises:
You have done the right thing in stopping toxic mold exposure to the public; also your employees!
I was a nurse, exposed to a veryyyyyy mold-infested building 7 years ago. I suddenly was paralyzed from the waist down (demyelinated at L 1-2 of my spinal cord), I knooow it was from toxic mold there. I lost bladder, bowel, & sexual functionality, and all balance. My memory deficit is horrible, my rashes are horrible, and they’ve done nothing to help me, or the others from that building, who are afflicted in the same ways!
Can you please help me??!! Can you tell me what symptoms your people came down with? And, also what types of molds were found in your environment?
Thanks in advance, soooo much!
Dear Scotia Prince Cruises,
Nice to see someone looking out for their employees rather than just saying they are crazy and can’t be ill from mold.
Letter from Matthew Hudson, Chairman
2005 Season Cancelled
I am very sorry to inform you that we have been forced to cancel the 2005 season due to the lack of safe and appropriate facilities at our terminal in Portland.
Last August, Scotia Prince Cruises discovered dangerous levels of toxic mold in the terminal facilities we lease from the City of Portland. As of April 1, 2005, the City has not made the facilities safe for our employees or passengers.
Without safe facilities we cannot operate and the federal agencies cannot provide border formalities and security checks, so we have been forced to cancel the season.
If you have already booked with us for 2005 you will be contacted shortly by one of our Customer Service Representatives. We will immediately refund 100% of all payments. In additional we will provide you with a credit, worth 20% of your current booking, to be applied against future travel as compensation for the inconvenience of our season cancellation.
Please accept our apologies – I know this is an inconvenience for you but we are not willing to endanger the health of our valued customers and employees through exposure to dangerous levels of toxic mold.
Scotia Prince Cruises