Radon at New “H” Division OCC Site

As many of you may know, “H” Division OCC is scheduled to move from Truro, NS to the provincial RCMP HQ building in Dartmouth, NS in February 2021. One of the employer’s reasons provided for this move was the health and safety of employees. This did not make sense from the beginning, especially given the information and facts that everyone local knew.

It seemed natural to ask for health and safety information so, that’s what we did; we requested the latest air quality reports and security assessments for the new location. Initially, we were told that we would be provided the air quality report within weeks of that first request. However, those weeks went by and the employer refused to provide the reports.

Air quality reports are routine and not a secret so, refusing to release the report seemed very strange. We then made a request through the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) process. Again, the RCMP put up roadblocks to releasing the report and continued to delay. Finally, we had to put in a complaint with the Information Commissioner of Canada.

Last week, as a direct result of the complaint to the Information Commissioner of Canada, we finally received the report. The report showed alarming levels of Radon present in the space where the new OCC is supposed to be built. The levels reported surpass the World Health Organization’s 100 Bq/m3 threshold and even Health Canada’s threshold of 200 Bq/m3. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. We immediately reported this to the Occupational Health and Safety Committee of the Truro (current) location for their awareness. We also alerted the Health and Safety specialists at CUPE National who put an analysis together of the reported results.

We have advised management and the OCC Move project team lead. Now that they knew we had the report, they finally agreed to speak to us about it. The employer said they are working on mitigation and they seem to think the issue is resolved. They told us they are keeping a close eye on it but, they still have not shared any further reports we have requested to prove the mitigation is working to improve the Radon levels.

We are deeply troubled by the lack of communication and continued secrecy surrounding this whole workplace relocation. These important health and safety issues are the latest in a long line of issues surrounding this move. The health and safety of our members is extremely important, and we will continue to ensure a safe working environment for all of our members in all work locations.