McGill University has closed a part of its Macdonald Campus after asbestos was discovered in a building undergoing renovations Tuesday.
The Montreal institution says the Raymond, Macdonald-Stewart and Barton buildings in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue will be off limits for at least two days.
“We know that this news may raise concerns, and we are taking the problem very seriously,” said Pierre Barbarie, director of campus public safety, in a statement on behalf of the university’s emergency operations committee.
The decision comes after wipe tests on certain surfaces in the Raymond Building showed the presence of asbestos, a toxic mineral. The building is being renovated but previous tests were negative for asbestos, according to McGill.
“Extensive testing will be conducted over the next few days to find and isolate the source of the problem,” the university said. “The Macdonald-Stewart and Barton buildings, while not under construction, are being closed out of an abundance of caution while testing is conducted.”
The university said the air ventilation systems of the three buildings aren’t connected, but there are passageways that connect the structures.
The affected buildings are off limits, with the exception of some research activities — such as tending to animals — that must first be cleared by the university. McGill said those who have permission to enter must be equipped with personal protective equipment supplied by the university.
Students cannot enter the buildings and courses must be held online where possible. If the course cannot be moved online, it must be cancelled.
All staff working in those buildings must work online or at another location until Friday morning. Those who cannot do their jobs online will still be paid, the university said.
McGill said it will provide an update once more information becomes available, including “firmer timelines” on when the trio of buildings are set to reopen.