Eastdale Mall reopens two days after death, gas leak

Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Eastdale Mall reopened Tuesday afternoon, two days after closing because a man was found dead inside a bathroom and a Freon gas leak was discovered nearby. The two incidents have not been officially linked. Autopsy results on the cause of death could take several weeks.

The mall unlocked its doors at 6:00pm after tests indicated that air inside the complex was safe to breath.

Several stores including Belk, Dillards and J.C. Pennys decided earlier in the day to reopen their doors, though the mall itself remained closed.

Montgomery Fire Chief M. Jordan assured customers the facility was safe to enter after numerous tests were conducted. "Once again the only reason that it was closed...was as a precaution to ensure the safety of our citizens..." he said.

Eastdale Mall General Manager Dave Schloss issued the following statement:

"We are happy to report that after thorough inspections by the Montgomery Fire Department, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Occupational Safety Administration and independent environmental consultants  who are certified by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene as experts in the field of assessing air quality in the work environment, we have been assured that Eastdale Mall is environmentally safe to occupy for employees, shoppers and other visitors to this proud center of community life in central Alabama for over three decades.  We will be back in business by 6:00 this afternoon.  This is good news for the many patrons of Eastdale Mall and for the retail stores that have the pleasure of serving them. 

With regard to the process we followed to make sure the mall is safe, after fear of a concentrated leak of Freon we asked experts with the highest qualifications for assessing air quality, known as Industrial Hygienists and certified by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene to conduct whatever inspections and studies they considered necessary to make an independent and certain determination about the safety of the mall.  Studies were conducted yesterday and today by Bhate Environmental Associates, Inc., Environmental Hazmat Services, Inc., and Environmental Education and Consulting, Inc.  All of the tests conducted by these three and by all others show that the air in Eastdale Mall is as clean as in any normal building anywhere.  In other words, it is now entirely clear that the mall is safe.

Ms. Sally Smith, a Certified Industrial Hygienist with Bhate Environmental Associates, Inc., states that "…We conducted extensive screening tests throughout the mall and in stores to search for the presence of the targeted harmful substances. We could find no concentration of the targeted harmful substances that gives concern about the safety of the environment of Eastdale Mall. Our favorable opinion applies to the retail stores and all common areas in the mall. In other words, as Certified Industrial Hygienists, we have conclusively determined that the mall is safe for people to use in the normal way."  "

WSFA 12 News will continue to follow this story with the latest developments as they become available.

©2010 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.