Air Force base landlord falsified maintenance records, exposed families to asbestos: Reuters

Air Force base landlord falsified maintenance records, exposed families to asbestos: Reuters
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One of the U.S. military’s major housing providers falsified maintenance records for years at an Oklahoma Air Force base, exposing military families to asbestos, according to a Reuters investigation.

The investigation found that Balfour Beatty Communities, the landlord for Tinker Air Force Base, kept two sets of maintenance books, presenting the falsified records to the Air Force and keeping handwritten, accurate records for company use only, according to Reuters.

Robert Whittington, who worked as Balfour Beatty’s manager on the base between 2014 and mid-2017, told the news service he altered work-order records in response to instructions from his superior and also pressured employees to close out incomplete work orders before their lateness could count against the company.

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Balfour Beatty received a report from the Ippolito family in 2015 of warped floor tiles, which contained asbestos and further damage from a water leak, according to Reuters.

In a maintenance log, a company technician said the leak was fixed in 20 minutes, when in fact it took more than a week and the other problems took months, according to the news service.

“You think your family is safe, and then you find out your kid is eating asbestos flooring. It makes me sick,” Nick Ippolito, a Navy petty officer second class stationed on the base, told Reuters. “It seems like they’re just out for the dollar.”

A Reuters review of company records, Air Force reports and interviews with former employees found the company faked records to make it appear more responsive than it was to complaints.

“It’s like they’re operating a bank robbery at a corporate level,” Whittington told Reuters. “I got to the point where I was waking up in the morning and wondering, ‘Well, how many people am I going to have to screw over today?’ ”

Air Force housing employees stationed at the base warned the maintenance logs contained false information about promptness of responses at least 18 times since 2015, according to Air Force reports.

“We do not feel that emergency, urgent and routine work orders are accurately recorded,” one states, according to the news service.

Balfour Beatty did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.