The U.S. Air Force is demanding Balfour Beatty Communities resolve “concerns with serious life, health, and safety issues” in all 21 of its bases where the housing landlord operates, or else suffer consequences like steep financial penalties and even termination of its agreement with the Air Force, said Air Force Assistant Secretary for Installations John Henderson in a letter to Balfour Beatty Communities Christopher Williams.
The demand comes after Reuters reported construction and maintenance issues at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, and a joint Reuters and CBS News investigation in June revealed that Balfour Beatty had falsified maintenance records in order to score million-dollar military incentives.
British company Balfour Beatty had insisted the maintenance problems were not widespread and were the fault of a single employee. But the Reuters report showed that Air Force members had raised red flags about the accuracy of the company’s maintenance records several times.
Tinker is a major source of concern as families were reportedly exposed to health hazards including sewage, rodents, mold and asbestos, a known carcinogen that has been linked to mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer. A fire in a Tinker row home in July also uncovered serious fire code violations in 77 duplexes built by Balfour Beatty.
“These failures are unacceptable and have seriously eroded confidence by senior Air Force leadership in BBC’s ability to provide militaries with safe, quality housing,” Henderson said.
Senator Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee from Oklahoma, called for the problems to be “fixed now and forever,” adding that “if the current set of housing contractors won’t do it, the Air Force and the other services need to find someone who will.”
U.S. Army and Navy have also launched inquiries into Balfour Beatty’s maintenance practices at their bases following the Reuters report.
Beasley Allen attorneys are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma; as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.