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Reconstruction begins at Puerto Rico Forensic Sciences Institute

Reconstruction work at the Puerto Rico Institute of Forensic Sciences (ICF, in Spanish) is underway following the receipt of $3.4 million from the Working Capital Advance (WCA) pilot program, the executive director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3), Manuel Laboy-Rivera, has announced.

“This permanent project, with approximately $17.8 million obligated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will allow for the acquisition of new, specialized equipment and repairs that will enhance the resilience of the infrastructure,” Laboy-Rivera said. “With this federal fund investment, the ICF will strengthen its operations and provide its personnel with better tools to carry out their specialized work with the excellence that distinguishes them.”

Initially, FEMA obligated $7.6 million for this project. Subsequently, the government of Puerto Rico filed an insurance claim through court, given that the awarded amount was less than the estimated damages. In response to the original proposal of the insurer to pay only $111,198 — and in accordance with the process established by FEMA, known as “reasonable effort”  — the ICF, with the assistance of COR3, significantly increased the obligation to $17.8 million.

The COR3 director said that ICF is one of the government agencies benefiting from the extended WCA for subrecipients with previous disbursements. In this case, the ICF had previously received a $1 million reimbursement and now requested $3.4 million through the WCA pilot program. The sum of both disbursements represents 25 percent of the total obligation.

“With the advancement of these funds, we will be able to proceed with the rehabilitation of the physical plant, acquire equipment and make the necessary repairs for the continuity of services and to provide a rapid response in emergency situations,” ICF Executive Director María Conte said. “I am pleased with the technical advice we received from COR3 to access these resources and advance the works that will provide us with safe and suitable facilities for our workers and the people who require our services.”

The scope of work for the ICF reconstruction project includes the replacement of lighting fixtures, repairing wall cracks, replacing ceiling panels, gypsum walls and vinyl floors, as well as cleaning and improving the ventilation systems that were affected by water ingress during Hurricane Maria. 

The project also includes improvements and replacement of mechanical equipment that was damaged by the collapse of the electrical system or by strong winds. In addition, exterior painting work, replacement of perimeter fences, installation of lighting poles, and the repair of a retaining wall surrounding part of the facility will be completed.

“At COR3, we recognize the need and importance of these facilities,” Laboy-Rivera added. “We are committed to continuing to assist the ICF with technical matters until the completion of this project, in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, as stipulated by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi’s public policy.”

Considering the importance of resilience, the ICF will allocate $1.4 million for mitigation measures, including roof sealing, anchoring and the installation of structural meshes that reduce the impact of hurricane winds on exposed equipment. The ICF will also be able to replace windows with ones that are resistant to hurricane-force winds, install storm shutters and security doors, among other measures.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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