El Paso, TX (KTSM) — The County's Downtown Detention Facility has a mold problem. Despite the mold on all of the jail's floors, the Sheriff says it's not harmful but it needs to be fixed. The mold was discovered in April when Deputies were trying to do some preventative work for the air ducts within the facility. What ended up happening was the mold discover and the scramble to fix it quickly.
On each and every floor of the detention facility lies mold. "There was mold found in the duct work on all the floors, there was no mold found on the ceilings, floors and walls," Sheriff Richard Wiles said. The Sheriff says most of it can be found in the basement and the first floor and while mold can pose significant health risks Sheriff Wiles claims the testing showed the mold level is lower than that outside.
But it still needs to be fixed and fixing this mold problem creates a couple of obstacles.
"You would have to include schematics of the jail, where the duct works are located.... and I'm very concerned about that information being public," Wiles said.
The Sheriff asked County Commissioners to enact the Public Safety Exception so that the County can contact the only three mold cleaner vendors in town directly. "The County Attorney's Office and that the Sheriff's was concerned about was the exposure making all of those documents public about the operations inside of the facility," Judge Veronica Escobar told us.
The County agreed to enact the exception so now, the bids won't be public. 'It is a maximum security jail, we hold some very dangerous people over there," Wiles explained.
Another issue, where will all the inmates go when they proceed with the cleaning? The Sheriff told us they will have to move the inmates around in the jail and if they don't have enough room, "we may have to begin to work with the US Marshalls to relocated some of the federal prisoners that we're holding," Wiles said.
The Sheriff says there is no deadline to take care of the mold, but he hopes to take care of it quickly. He also told us, the mold was most likely caused by the evaporative cooling system the facility had in place when the jail was first built.