'Spam Can' could open by spring

Repairs on oil-damaged office building ahead of schedule

Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Cleaning crews still are removing oily debris from the Court Plaza Building, but the state hopes to move tenants back in by May, two months ahead of schedule.

The state closed its Main Street building in December after a fuel tank on the roof overflowed and about 200 gallons of diesel seeped inside, soaking carpeting, wallboard and insulation.

The occupants, mostly state employees, are working in other downtown offices while crews decontaminate the eight-story structure, known as the Spam Can. The state initially said the building probably wouldn't be ready for occupancy until July.

Brad Thompson, director of the Alaska Division of Risk Management, said the state planned to allow local contractors to inspect the damage today so they can bid on a contract to repair some interior wallboard.

Thompson said the state will take bids later on a larger contract for more extensive repairs to an outside wall. The diesel saturated the sheathing between the exterior metal panels and the studs, and the contract will call for a crew to remove the oily material from outside the building, he said.

"We hope to have a contractor on-site the first or second week of March who will remove the exterior building panels, then remove and replace the exterior sheathing," Thompson said. "If we can get a contractor in there in the first part of March, we should be able to finish within 60 days - that's my hope."

The state initially hired Carson Dorn Inc. of Juneau and HazTran Inc. of Minnesota to respond to the mess. Those contracts were not put out to bid, as allowed under state emergency procurement codes, he said.

Thompson did not have a total cost estimate to repair the damage, but said the goal is to keep it under $1 million. He's pushing to clean the building and move tenants in ahead of schedule because the rent for dislocated workers is costing an additional $35,000 a month.

More than 100 state employees who work in the building moved to other downtown offices by the second week of January, said Chris Parce, who coordinated the move.

"They all are in alternate office spaces now ..." Parce said.

Although affected state employees were granted paid leave immediately after the Dec. 17 spill, Parce said they missed only about four days because they worked from home or in alternate offices.

Kathy Dye can be reached at kdye@juneauempire.com.

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