CTV News has learned that renovations at an aging Fredericton arena may have sickened a number of construction workers.

The project was halted in May when lead-based paint was found on some of the metal structures inside the York Arena and as many as a dozen people may now be suffering from lead poisoning.

“As soon as we sent some samples in, got them tested, it was confirmed that they were high,” says city spokesperson James Blanchard.

Few people have been inside the building since, but at least one person who was working on renovations says exposure to lead has sickened him and as many as 15 others.

The worker, who did not want to be identified, says he was diagnosed with extreme levels of lead in his blood and is now waiting to see a specialist.

He says he suffers from fatigue, joint pain, abdominal pain and memory loss and knows of at least one other co-worker who is extremely ill, while as many as a dozen others are still awaiting test results.

The city confirms a number of workers are being monitored.

“All contractors were encouraged to go to the doctors … if they wanted to, they were encouraged to do that and get … my understanding is a blood test is the only way to find out, so I think some of those test results are starting to trickle in,” says Blanchard.

Neither the city nor WorkSafe NB would confirm how many workers may have been exposed to lead at the York Arena. WorkSafe NB says its investigation into the matter is ongoing.

The lead most likely comes from paint applied during the arena’s original construction in the 1940s and CTV News has confirmed that steel beams lying in the open, on arena property, are covered with the paint that forced the work to be halted.

“The outer coat that we see, the blue, doesn’t seem to be too high, but the inner coat, which might have been done at the factory, as a sealant at the factory, seems to be the high lead,” says Blanchard.

The New Brunswick Health Department says it didn’t know about the discovery and there is no law requiring contractors to report the discovery of lead paint.

CTV News attempted to contact the project’s main contractor, but our calls were not returned.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell