Asbestos risk: Duncan B.C. medical building shut down by owner

WorksafeBC says the owner voluntarily closed the building after an inspection found signs of asbestos in the air.

Building houses medical clinic, dental offices and a pharmacy

The Valley Medical Clinic in Duncan B.C. has been temporarily closed after asbestos fibres were discovered in the air inside the building. (Google Streetview)

A medical services building in Duncan has been shut down temporarily over concerns about asbestos.

"It was determined that there is vermiculite contamination in the air plenum and various workspaces in the building," said Scott McCloy with WorkSafeBC. "It's always a concern when workers are exposed to asbestos, which is a known carcinogen."

The Valley Medical Clinic on 335 Jubliee Street is home to a medical clinic, dental offices and a pharmacy. 

McCloy says the the fibres likely came from insulation that was disturbed during construction or maintenance work, although he could not confirm how many employees may have been exposed or for how long.

"This is a complete and utter surprise to me and we are looking to see what caused the issue," said Doyle Childs, who bought the building a few months ago.

He added that the building will remain closed until WorksafeBC is satisfied that the asbestos insulation material has been properly dealt with.

'Make sure it's safe'

"What's really important to us is to make sure that workers that have been in there are safe," said Childs. "Absolutely we want to make sure it's safe."

Meanwhile the Vancouver Island Health Authority says an interim location is being used at 256 Evans Street in Duncan and regular phone lines for the clinic are in place.

"It is my understanding they are contacting patients with scheduled appointments to advise them of the new location," said spokesperson Valerie Wilson in an e-mail to CBC News.

Asbestos is present in many pre-1990 buildings and can impact the health of people who breathe in the fibres, especially over long periods of time.

WorksafeBC has an online registry for exposure because potential health effects may not appear for years or even decades.


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