"Mold battle won, Freeland bank reopens"
June 25, 2008 · Updated 6:40 PM
"Paul Heberling of Air Health Services, Camano Island, does a final cleaning on some of the vent work from the Freeland Branch of InterWest Bank. InterWest was closed for maintenance for several days while contractors battled a mold problem in the vent and duct system.Gayle Saran / staff photoWho are you going to call when mold is oozing into your building? Officials of InterWest Bank called in mold busters to battle the problem at the Freeland branch of the bank.Customers of the branch for the past week were greeted by closed for maintenance signs. The reason: Greenish, gray, slimy mold had fouled air quality, forcing officials to close the bank for maintenance.The bank reopened for business yesterday. Bank officials called in environmental health experts and local contractors to alleviate the problem. Our facilities department and contractors worked overtime, literally and figuratively, to reopen the bank by Friday, said Joe Sexton, corporate relations manager for Interwest Bank in Oak Harbor. The problem began when a contractor who was checking the roof used a section of the duct system as a stepladder, bending it out of shape. The mold, which had been reproducing quietly on a flat area of the roof near the damaged duct work, began moving into the building through the exposed vent. Mold is everywhere in the Northwest. The problem was repaired when new duct work was put in place. Of course, we will prevent future incidents by keeping people from using the ducts as stepladders, Sexton said. Branch employees, particularly those with allergies, were adversely affected by the mold that was seeping into the building.Two contractors, Air Health Services of Camano Island and Tri-Co Heating of Oak Harbor, worked on the problem. Ducts and vents were taken apart and cleaned of all moldy debris, then put back together. InterWest hired Clayton Group Environmental Engineering from Seattle to ensure that the problem is fixed. People from Clayton have reassured us that we are handling this situation correctly, Sexton said. During the bank's closure its employees worked temporarily at the Clinton branch. This isn't the first problem with the 20-year-old building. About two years ago there was water damage when water leaked in behind the walls. At that time sheet rock and carpeting were replaced. Sexton said the roof is now fine and that the mold problem will not reoccur. "