Shelters in Léogâne inspected by Clinton Foundation
Isabeau Doucet and Isabel Macdonald Special to The Gazette
The Clinton Foundation has made public the results of its inspection of 20 trailers installed at four locations in Leogane, after an investigative report by The Nation, The Gazette and the Canadian Centre for Investigative Reporting found a host of problems with the units designed to be used as classrooms and emergency shelters.
The foundation maintains that the 20 trailers, built in the U.S. by Clayton Homes and funded to the tune of $1 million by the foundation, are “safely designed and structurally sound for their intended purpose.”
The article published in The Gazette Aug. 13 reported high levels of formaldehyde in one unit as well as problems including mold, leaking, shoddy construction, lack of sanitation and poor ventilation in many others.
The Clinton Foundation report, which contains four recommendations from structural engineer Liam O’Hanlon who assessed the units, does not address the issues of water, latrines or electricity. Levels of formaldehyde were deemed to be acceptable by engineering consultants NTA Inc.
O’Hanlon says he found no mold or leaking, but had access to the interiors of only four of the 20 shelters.
He noted that storm shutters are “key” to the shelters’ capacity to resist “debris, projectiles, or failure of the building envelope.” He “did not see any evidence of the shutters at any of the sites.”
O’Hanlon recommended installing shutters and improving ventilation, as well as routine maintenance to fix damage from leaks and tighten loose anchoring straps.
The Clinton Foundation declined to comment on the whereabouts of the storm shutters, or on its plans for implementing the engineer’s recommendations, and did not respond to repeated requests for an interview for this article.
In Leogane, local officials say they have yet to receive the shutters and they were not informed of the foundation’s inspection of the shelters in July.
That inspection included air tests by NTA Inc. When the trailers are unventilated, these tests found levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde–to which children are particularly vulnerable– rise to 109 parts per billion (ppb), which is above the rate at which adverse effects have been documented in [which] sensitive populations [such as children are known to experience long-term health effects].
The foundation defends these levels, citing 750 ppb as a “permissible exposure limit” in industrial settings. Peggy Jenkins, a California Air Resources Board official specializing in classroom air quality, says this standard is “really not the appropriate yardstick,” because it was “established for healthy adults, as opposed to growing children.”
Jenkins says “they should have ventilation,” adding the classrooms’ heat, where the tests recorded some temperatures of over 36 degrees, is also “really unacceptable.”
Andre Hercule, the school director of St. Therese de Darbonne, told the Gazette that the trailers “are in a very bad state,” and will soon be moved off the school property to make way for planned construction of a new “earthquake and cyclone-resistant” building.
Joseph insists that many of the problems could have been avoided by simply consulting with the mayor’s office, adding “the funds meant to rebuild Haiti are used by the Clinton Foundation to make a project to promote the Clinton Foundation but that cannot serve the population.”