Environmental concerns have prompted Fort Worth police employees to evacuate the one-time KXAS TV studio-turned-police-station after employees found a black substance inside the building this past weekend.
The police station has been undergoing renovations in multiple phases to covert the building at 3900 Barnett Street from its former role as television news studio to office space for Fort Worth police.
Several Fort Worth police units are currently housed there.
But on Monday, officers and civilians were told to grab their stuff, leave the building and find someplace else to work, a source tells the Star-Telegram.
The apparent cause, according to the source, was environmental concerns raised after employees came to work this past weekend to find a black substance inside parts of the building, including under at least one air vent.
Lt. Paula Fimbres, a police spokeswoman, confirmed Monday that the police department has "voluntarily relocated" personnel from the building "for an unknown length of time for environmental concerns."
That includes, she said, the department's Information Management, Intelligence and Narcotics sections, which each encompass several units. She could not immediately provide a number of how many employees have been impacted and where they would be relocated.
The KXAS building is supposed to “house” approximately 160 police employees once completed.
Fimbres referred other questions to the city's Property Management Department, which is overseeing the building's reconstruction.
Steve Cooke, director of the property management unit, said Monday that he had not heard of employees being told to leave the building or what could have sparked such an evacuation.
"I know our guys have been in there and they've tested everything in the ducts — I don't know how many times — and they never found anything, and any place that they ever found anything, they've removed it."
Photographs obtained by the Star-Telegram showed yellow caution tape outside the front entrance of the building. Another that has circulated among employees showed a black substance splattered on the floor directly under an air vent.
The building, located on what was referred to as "Broadcast Hill," had been traded to the city by KXAS as part of an incentive agreement on a new complex the station built in the CentrePort Business Park near Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
Diane Covey, a city spokeswoman, said the environmental quality unit was not behind the building's evacuation.
"It's not our role. We don't get involved with that. Our role is to test and abate,” Covey said.
Covey said that since 2014, the city’s environmental quality department has repeatedly checked the building, which was built in 1947, for possible asbestos fibers in the air.
“All the tests have come back what they call 'non-detect.' It means negative,” Covey said. “Asbestos is only hazardous to people when it’s in the air. It can be in between walls, it can be under the floor; as long as it’s covered, it’s not particularly hazardous.”
She said the environmental quality team returned Sunday to conduct more asbestos air testing after concerns were raised following some air duct cleaning inside the building.
“The results right now have been also ‘no detect,’” Covey said.
Covey said the environmental quality team will bring an expert out Wednesday to next test for molds and mildews.
Cooke, the city's property management director, said that a city environmental team has been working to remove anything "scary" prior to and sometimes during each renovation phase at the building.
"Before we touch anything, before we damage anything, they go in front of us and they remove asbestos or whatever...," Cooke said. "They take care of that for us. This project is no different. They've done that on multiple occasions."