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Ribbon-cutting marks completion of construction on CBP laboratory

March 13, 2018

By Alison Kohler

Guaynabo, P.R. — A ribbon-cutting ceremony March 7 at the U.S. General Services Administration Federal Center here marked completion of construction on a build-out project to relocate the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s San Juan Laboratory.

The completed project provides a full-service analytical laboratory equipped with the latest state of the art scientific equipment and capabilities for chemical and physical testing of a wide variety of importations and forensic-related samples.

Dignitaries cut the ribbon to mark the completion of construction on the new CBP lab located at the GSA Center in Guaynabo, P.R.
Dignitaries cut the ribbon to mark the completion of construction on the new CBP lab located at the GSA Center in Guaynabo, P.R. Pictured from left to right are: Division 16, LLC President and General Manager Carlos A. Rodriguez, CBP Program Manager Dilip Kinra, CBP San Juan Laboratory Director Jose Mendez, GSA Project Manager Anabel Mulero, GSA Regional Administrator John A. Sarcone, III, CBP Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner Linda Jacksta, CBP Acting Executive Director of Laboratories and Scientific Services, Dr. James D. Sweet, Puerto Rico Assistant Secretary of State Eduardo Arosemena-Muñoz, CBP Director of Facilities, Management and Engineering Frances “Fritz” Dutch, and CBP Project Manager Richard Shields. Photograph by Alison Kohler

“The updated lab provides the much-needed improvements to the operational areas for various lab activities by isolating each of those required needs in different, clearly defined areas within the lab,” said Frances “Fritz” Dutch, director of CBP’s Facilities, Management and Engineering Division.

Several distinguished guests attended the ceremony and participated in the ribbon-cutting, including Assistant Secretary of State Eduardo Arosemena-Muñoz of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s administration, Washington-based CBP Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner Linda Jacksta and CBP Laboratory and Scientific Services Director Dr. James Sweet.

GSA managed the build-out of approximately 13,000 usable square feet of space in the GSA Federal Center according to its mission to deliver value and savings in real estate, acquisition, technology and other mission-support services for the federal government.

“We take great pride in our mission, because it allows our customers like Customs and Border Protection to focus on their mission to protect the public from dangerous people, contraband, and to maintain the integrity of the tariff system,” said GSA’s Northeast and Caribbean Regional Administrator John A. Sarcone III. “Laboratories like this one are critical to CBP’S mission to help facilitate the free flow of goods into Puerto Rico and provide the safety and security the people of Puerto Rico expect and deserve.”

The San Juan Laboratory facility was previously located at the Historic San Juan Customs House. The nearly $6 million build-out project at the GSA Federal Center began in May 2016 and was completed in February 2018.

“The lab includes exterior upgrades to the façade and electrical service system, as well as construction of administrative spaces and a state of the art laboratory space for microscopy, digital forensics, drug analysis, latent print processing, petroleum analysis, material conditioning, and organic and inorganic analysis. This new space optimizes CBP’s ability to service Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with this forensic support, weapons of mass destruction interdiction, and trade enforcement,” Dutch said.

Additional features of the new laboratory include:

Nydia Natal, CBP San Juan Laboratory employee, displays some tools inside the new San Juan Laboratory
Nydia Natal, CBP San Juan Laboratory employee, displays some tools inside the new San Juan Laboratory during a tour by guests and dignitaries following a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 7 in Guaynabo, P.R. Photograph by Alison Kohler
  • Energy efficient systems, such as: Energy Star equipment, LED motion sensing lighting systems, new solar water heaters, and a Building Automated System to monitor energy consumption and avoid excess spending due to overuse of electricity.
  • Expanded bench and storage space for lab instruments, flammable gases, and liquids
  • An updated rooftop air handling unit to accommodate the high volume of airflow that the lab requires for critical equipment
  • Expanded conditioning rooms for textile and sugar analysis
  • Increased work space for chemists
  • A state of the art security system

“One of GSA’s primary goals is to make smart asset management decisions with our partners while keeping an eye toward responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars and still benefiting economic development within the local community,” Sarcone said.

The general contractor Division 16, LLC, is a small business 8A vendor based in Puerto Rico.

“It was a great opportunity for us,” said Carlos A. Rodriguez, president and general manager of Division 16, LLC. “Transparency and flexibility within reasonable guidelines provide a sustainable work platform. This was really important for this kind of project, where it’s complicated and has a lot of detail,” he said.

The lab employs approximately 20 professionals, including many scientists and technical experts. Lab Director Jose Mendez accepted a ceremonial key from Dutch on behalf of the entire project team and lab staff to commemorate the special day.

“This was a team effort by a dedicated group of individuals working toward one common goal. We were able to execute. We were able to deliver. And now, we can begin the true work in our new San Juan Laboratory,” Dutch said.

“Indeed this effort of coming together is an example of true partnership. CBP staff, contractors of Puerto Rico, and GSA personnel all worked tirelessly to complete construction of this facility,” Jacksta said.

Last Reviewed: 2018-03-13