Congressman calls toxic conditions at Dublin prison a 'disgrace'

Carrie Myles said she is suffering from breathing problems after spending time at FCI Dublin. 

U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Dublin) is troubled over the horrid living conditions at the Federal Institute at Dublin – already in the public's eye for its rampant sexual abuse cases -- and he is planning to visit the tarnished all-women's prison soon. 

"The conditions at FCI Dublin are a disgrace," DeSaulnier told KTVU in an email on Thursday. "Unhealthy and unsanitary living conditions are unacceptable and should have been addressed immediately when they were first raised. That this is still an issue, combined with the continued concerns around sexual abuse and access to counsel, speaks volumes about the facility’s disregard for inmates."

He didn't specify when he would visit but added in would be in the near future. 

DeSaulnier's comments came after nearly a dozen women at FCI Dublin filed formal complaints in federal court regarding the asbestos, toxic mold and plethora of goose poop covering the grounds at the all-women's facility, causing them to have respiratory problems and hearing loss.

In an interview, Carrie Myles, 44, told KTVU on Thursday that she's still feeling the ill effects of spending seven years at the prison on a prostitution transportation charge.

"I'm having trouble breathing," Myles said. "And I have migraines. I'm suffering right now because I don't have a doctor."

Myles, who now lives in Emeryville after being released from prison in the fall, said she worked in the facilities' division of FCI Dublin and had access to a lot of information about asbestos and infrastructure.

Every year, the aging, corroded pipes would burst, causing flooding in the dorm cells and releasing asbestos into the air, she said. The showers are often filled with mold, as are some of the classrooms. Myles said she was told to buff floor tiles, which have asbestos underneath, until just a few months ago when the practice was abruptly discontinued. 

"There is constant flooding from the ceiling," Myles recalled. "We were often moved in the middle of the night. We'd be in water up to our ankles."

She remembers a time when she and the other women were given six bottles of water a day, because the administration knew the tap water was unsafe to drink. 

Myles said she reported these unsafe conditions, she said, but nothing was done.

"Everybody felt ill," she said. "It was a messed up situation. Everyone complained about it." 

The women's formal complaints also cite that their grievances aren't being taken seriously.

Former FCI Dublin unit manager Tess Korth, who is now a whistleblower against her former employer, said she would also report the toxic mold conditions regularly in her duty reports – all to no avail.  

"They told us if we didn't ‘cut into’ the asbestos, we'd be fine," Korth said. "Like if we didn't cut into the tiles because the asbestos was underneath, we didn't need to worry. I never believed anything they said." 

Korth said the mold was so bad in some of the educational areas that the stench overwhelmed her whenever she walked by. 

"It's like ‘Oh my God,’" she said. 

And as for the goose poop, Korth said that she remembers the women cleaning up the yard from all the poop, but then leaving the open bags of bird feces in trailers for at least a week.

"There were bags of poop everywhere," Korth said. "It's disgusting. The geese are out of control." 

In emails this week, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Prisons declined comment. EPA spokesman Michael Brogan did add, however, that the EPA is aware of the public health issues and takes "all environmental concerns seriously."

A check of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's database shows there has been no enforcement action against FCI Dublin in the last five years. 

Concerns over toxic mold and asbestos have taken a backseat to the rampant sexual abuse at FCI Dublin, where five correctional officers, including the warden, were charged with sexually assaulting incarcerated women. Of the five, four so far have been convicted. 

And the women incarcerated inside the prison are well aware of that.

"Environmental issues may not get the headlines," Maura Martinez wrote to the court. "But it is a threat to our quality of living. Women are being physically and emotionally harmed, just they like when they were being sexually abused. We need help." 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez