Senator Inhofe Addresses Mold, Housing Issues At Tinker AFB

Wednesday, October 2nd 2019, 4:26 pm
By: Clayton Cummins

Ninety-days is how long privatized housing company Balfour Beatty LLC has come up with a plan to fix ongoing housing issues at Tinker Air Force Base. 

It was October 2018 when News 9 first reported Tinker families have been living with toxic mold and water problems.

Time has passed revealing further issues.

Residents were recently informed “a flooring contractor working in an unoccupied home in McNarney Manor did not follow the correct procedures for handling the removal of vinyl and linoleum flooring.”

As a result, 20 homes the contractor worked on may contain asbestos.

In a press conference Tuesday, Senator Jim Inhofe told media he recently learned that 77 homes on base lack firewalls.

“We knew about all of the other problems we thought, but we didn't know about that,” said Sen. Inhofe. “How many other problems are out there?”

In a letter sent to Balfour Beatty LCC Monday, the United States Air Force is giving the privatized company 90 days to come up with a comprehensive plan in addressing toxic mold, maintenance issues and flaws in construction.

“Week after week and month after month, it just not has improved at the pace that we want it to,” said Col. Paul Filcek, the 72nd Air Base Wing Commander.

According to Air Force officials, Balfour Beatty LCC must create a plan locally and at locations nationwide. If the company fails to so do, the Air Force will enter a formal dispute resolution to find an alternate solution.

The Air Force said housing issues at Tinker are “more complex” compared to other bases nationwide. 

“I am confident that they can do that, that is the Air Force’s hope that we find a better outcome,” said Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, John Henderson. “That is what is in the best interest of the taxpayer, that is what is in the best interest for the life health and safety for our residents who live here at Tinker.”

Sen. Inhofe and Tinker officials agree privatized housing is still in the best interest of the military.

In July 2018, News 9 spoke to a Navy family who says they have been forced to live in unsanitary conditions.

The Cole Family now lives in an RV across the street from Tinker after encountering what, they said, are problems with mold, flooding and asbestos.

“I really appreciate their initiative because that hasn't always been there,” said Rachel Cole. “I wish it could have happened sooner that they (Balfour Beatty LCC) really would have taken it more serious from the beginning and really held them to a tighter standard earlier.”

Sen. Inhofe closed Tuesday’s press conference with a statement following his home tour, drawing criticism from some.

“I can tell you guys if they had had that kind of housing when I was in the United States Army, I probably would have stayed,” Sen. Inhofe said. “I’ve never seen nicer housing.”

“That hurt to hear because that does not give us any support or any feeling like he is siding with us,” said Cole. “It feels like he wants to side with them and say well, it's not that bad, I’d live in it, and that is not how anyone in the services feels.”

News 9 confirms representatives from Balfour Beatty LCC were part of base housing tour, however, no representatives attended Tuesday’s press conference.

The number of families effected by housing issues continues to grow. Click here to donate to families experiencing housing issues.