FM ensures a safe Bell move

Moose in Diorama at Bell By Rachel Lemire

The Bell Museum and Planetarium is preparing to move to its new home in St. Paul, and the current museum space is being decommissioned, a process that ends a building’s particular use or operation. FM’s hazardous materials team plays a critical role in decommissioning projects around campus, and in the case of the Bell, are part of a combined effort to ensure the Bell is closed efficiently and effectively. Denise Young, Executive Director of the Bell Museum, recently sent a letter of thanks to Sean Gabor, FM Hazardous Materials Program Manager.

“As you know, your Haz Mat team is very much involved with the Bell Museum right now, especially with the diorama disassembly and move preparations. I just wanted to extend our thanks to you and your team for the wonderful work that you are doing. I hear from our exhibits staff that your staff is responsive, skilled, able to quickly trouble shoot and problem solve, and a pleasure to work with. As a result, our project is still on schedule and we are confident we will safely and effectively move from the current Bell to our new home on the St. Paul campus.Your team is a critical part of the Bell project - we literally couldn't do it without you. Thank you again for your leadership and the important role your team is playing with the Bell Museum.”  

Gabor and his colleagues are responsible for monitoring and proper disposal of the hazardous materials found during the decommissioning of the Bell. For this task, the FM hazardous materials team was mostly involved in the deconstruction of the dioramas in the museum. According to Gabor, the dioramas dated back to as early as 1911 and had used potentially dangerous chemicals, including arsenic and mercury, as pesticides because they were cheap and effective. At the time, there was little concern for the health hazards they would cause.

Because of the threat these chemicals posed, Gabor and his team had to take precautionary measures to ensure safety and health during the removal of the dioramas. These included the use of personal protection equipment such as gloves, tyvek suits, respirators, and monitors to check levels of dangerous chemicals in the air and materials.

Work to prepare the dioramas for transport began in January 2017 and is scheduled to end after air quality testing has concluded.

Gabor summarized his work on this project saying, "The Diorama move was a unique project that required some special testing and innovative thinking to complete the work. Our group was happy to provide support to the team with regard to the health and safety aspects of the project."