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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Forensic Sciences Institute receives $3.5 million for facility reconstruction

Puerto Rico Institute of Forensic Sciences Executive Director Dr. María Conte Miller

By The Star Staff

Reconstruction work at the Puerto Rico Institute of Forensic Sciences (ICF by its Spanish initials) is on track after receiving $3,462,184, through an advance from the Working Capital Advance (WCA) pilot program, Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera said Monday.

“This permanent work, which has approximately $17.8 million mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will allow the acquisition of new specialized equipment, as well as repairs that will make the infrastructure resilient. With this investment of federal funds, the ICF will strengthen its operations and offer better tools to its staff to develop specialized work with the excellence that distinguishes them,” Laboy Rivera said in a written statement.

FEMA initially obligated $7.6 million for the project. Then, the island government filed a claim in court against the insurer, since the amount awarded was less than the estimated damages. In response to the insurer’s original proposal to pay only $111,198 and complying with the process established by FEMA known as “reasonable effort,” the ICF achieved, with COR3’s assistance, a considerable increase in the obligation, which amounts to $17,877,592.

Meanwhile, Laboy Rivera said the ICF is one of the government agencies that is benefiting from the WCA extending assistance for those subrecipients with previous disbursements. In this case, ICF received a refund of $1,007,293 some time ago, and now has petitioned through the WCA pilot program for $3,462,184. The sum of both disbursements represents 25% of the total obligation.

“With the advance of these funds, we will be able to direct the rehabilitation work on the physical plant, and the acquisition of equipment, and carry out the repairs that are essential for the continuity of services and to be able to provide rapid response in emergency situations,” ICF Executive Director Dr. María Conte Miller said. “I am pleased with the technical advice we received from COR3 to be able to access these resources and advance the work that will give us safe and adequate facilities for our workers and the people who require our services.”

The scope of work of the ICF reconstruction project includes replacing lighting fixtures, repairing cracks in walls, and replacing ceiling panels, plaster walls and vinyl floors, as well as cleaning and improving ventilation systems that were fouled by the entry of water during Hurricane Maria. Likewise, improvements to and replacement of mechanical equipment that was damaged by the collapse of the electrical system or that was impacted by strong winds will be made. It will also be possible to complete exterior painting, replacement of perimeter fences, installation of lighting poles and repair of a retaining wall that surrounds part of the installation.

In addition, considering the importance of bolstering the facility’s resilience against future extreme weather events, the ICF will qualify for $1.4 million for mitigation measures including roof sealing work as well as the installation of structural mesh that reduces the impact of hurricane winds on exposed equipment. Also, windows can be replaced with units that are resistant to hurricane winds, and storm shutters, and safety doors can be installed, among other measures.

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