Federal government spends $3.2M to rid downtown building of rats

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

The federal government has awarded a $3.2 million contract to Stockbridge-based Power House Termite and Pest Control, to exterminate rats from the entirety of the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center downtown.

The contract was awarded in late September and includes eradication and preventative maintenance. The work is expected to take a year, according to the General Services Administration, which manages the complex. A GSA spokesperson said the eradication work is about half complete and the worst areas, which house the Environmental Protection Agency, have been addressed.

The structure on Forsyth Street is the largest federal building in the Southeast. About 3,500 people across 23 agencies work there, according to the GSA. It consists of a 24-story main tower linked by a bridge to another 10-story building and the former main building of Rich’s department store.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

“The confluence of several factors — including construction in the area and conditions adjacent to the facility — have given rise to a rodent problem, which GSA is taking a whole building approach to resolve,” GSA spokesman Will Powell said.

The contract also includes cleaning and remediation, according to the GSA. Afterward, the government will continue preventive measures through a recurring pest management contract, Powell said.

The building’s daily occupancy depends on each agency’s operations. It stayed open after the coronavirus pandemic spread two years ago, although agencies temporarily placed most employees on emergency telework, with exceptions for those with critical on-site responsibilities.

The EPA leases seven floors of the main tower. A spokeswoman did not respond to questions about how many employees work there and whether they are working remotely due to the infestation.

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About 500 Social Security Administration employees work in the complex, said Patti Patterson, an agency spokeswoman.

“While some rodent intrusion was found in our space, it never impaired or restricted access to work spaces,” she said in a statement. “While the majority of our employees in the Sam Nunn Federal Center telework, they are able to work in the office when necessary.”

The Army Corps of Engineers’ 120 employees still come and go regularly from the two floors they occupy in the mid-rise tower, spokeswoman Kimberly Wintrich said. Many employees have to come in for disaster recovery operations and other tasks, such as running dams and locks on lakes, she said.

“I personally did not see any (rats) and if I did, I probably wouldn’t go into the office,” Wintrich said. “It has not affected our operations.”