Premier Michael Dunkley announced today that the Cabinet Office will be temporarily relocated to facilitate renovations that will see the removal of asbestos from the Front Street building.

In a Ministerial Statement this morning, the Premier said the building, which is more than 230 years old is also infested with termites. And an “air quality assessment revealed elevated levels of carbon monoxide, high internal humidity and toxic mold in various areas of the building”.

Damaged floor tiles in the basement also tested positive for asbestos. “The contaminated basement area was immediately sealed,” said the Premier$ “the Health Department then conducted an assessment and directed that all staff be removed from the building.”

The Cabinet Office will move to Innovations House on Reid Street in Hamilton effective June 6th. “Arrangements to relocate the Upper House are currently being considered by the Speaker of the House who will update the public in due course,” said Mr Dunkley.

“It is expected that the asbestos abatement will commence immediately upon the relocation of the Cabinet Office Team. This work will be followed by building renovations,” he added.

Responding to questions by Acting Opposition Leader David Burt, the Premier confirmed that Innovations House is owned by a One Bermuda Alliance officer.

Asked how much of the taxpayers money will be paid to this officer in the form of rent, the Premier said he will report back to the House of Assembly with that figure next Friday.

He told MPs the work “will be carried out with respect to the historical significance and listing of the building”.

The wooden windows will be replaced with new windows to be “manufactured locally to match the existing windows”. And the exterior of the building “will be sealed and painted, highlighting its architectural features”.

“Internally, in addition to repairs to the plaster and wood work, electrical, plumbing, heating ventilation and air-conditioning upgrades will be undertaken if required,” said Mr Dunkley.

“The building will be tented to address termite infestation and final cosmetic changes will result in the replacement of carpet and drapes.”

While noting that the majority of the work will be completed by tradesmen in the Department of Public Lands & Buildings, he said: “Cabinet has approved a contract to BS&R Group Ltd for the manufacture of windows for $240,505.92.

“Cabinet has also approved a contract to Kaissa for $67,000 for the exterior painting with a stucco finish which has a 15-year warranty. The total project is expected to take several months to complete.”

By Ceola Wilson