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Vol. LIX, No. 15
July 27, 2007
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Burst Pipe Floods Basement Areas in Bldg. 10

On the front page...

Late Tuesday evening, June 26, the Clinical Center experienced one of the worst floods in its history when a water booster pump vibration eliminator on a chilled- water pipe burst and ran for 40 minutes before it was detected and stopped. The B1 and B2 levels of Bldg. 10 experienced significant flooding, including Medical Arts, the NIH Library lower level, the CC's materials management department's biomedical engineering and property management section, computer support services and linen service. No one was injured in the incident or in the remediation period in the weeks after the flooding.

A vibration eliminator is a rubber fitting that joins two pipes and keeps water flowing. The broken 8-inch pipe had 140 pounds of pressure on it, pumping 1,000 gallons of water per minute into the CC. Because the water pressure had backed up, it became so intense that the pipe failed. The pipe is fed from a pump sitting on the floor on a concrete slab; it transfers water to coils in the air-handling unit in the South entrance lobby.

Continued...


  Ceiling tile debris litters the top of a work station in one of several Clinical Center areas damaged June 26 by flooding from a broken water pipe.  
  Ceiling tile debris litters the top of a work station in one of several Clinical Center areas damaged June 26 by flooding from a broken water pipe.  
NIH Library

The broken pipe was located in a utility room directly adjacent to the lower level of the NIH Library. Fortunately, recently installed compact shelves raised the level of the lowest tier of books and journals to 6 inches more than standard shelving. As a result, none of the 4 inches of standing water reached those items. Because of quick action to remove the soggy carpet and bring in dehumidifiers and fans, mold and mildew did not have time to develop. Staff from NLM's preservation section came to the library shortly after the flood to salvage some expensive foreign language dictionaries and scientific treatises used by the library's translations unit that were literally dripping wet.

  The department of clinical research information on the B2 level of the Clinical Center is one of several areas severely damaged by the flood.
  The department of clinical research information on the B2 level of the Clinical Center is one of several areas severely damaged by the flood.

The library reading room on the first floor remained open throughout. Aside from restricted access to the lower level and the print collections during the recovery process, the only major library service affected was document delivery, which fills about 500-600 requests each day for articles, primarily from print journals on the B1 level. Because of damage and safety concerns during the first 2 days after the flood, no document requests could be downloaded, let alone filled. However, after the elevator resumed operation, the document delivery team regrouped and was able to obtain articles from other sources until scanners were back in operation and it was safe to again work in the area affected by the flood.

Medical Arts

Water did not accumulate as much in the library because it seeped through the floor of B1 into the ceiling of B2 through the holes and cracks where utilities connect between floors, severely affecting NIH's Division of Medical Arts and Printing Services. About 50 percent of the division's equipment, including cameras, lenses, photography equipment, computers and graphic design supplies was destroyed and must be replaced. About 35 percent of medical arts staff worked from home in the days following the flood, while others temporarily relocated to offices within Bldg. 10 and 31.

Ceiling tile debris lies atop a work station.   A recycling box marks the level flood water reached.
Ceiling tile debris lies atop a work station.   A recycling box marks the level flood water reached.

The TV operations center, which provides cable programming throughout the building, including to patient rooms, was turned off for about 5 hours on June 27 for water clean up, but sent its first transmission following the flood by 1 p.m. on June 28. The Center for Information Technology on July 2 rewired medical arts' staff phones to the temporary support area on the 14th floor. The date for medical arts' return to its B2 area is unknown at this time.

  Flood water penetrated ceiling tiles on the B2 level of the Clinical Center.
   
  As a result, some workstations were practically destroyed.
  Top: Flood water penetrated ceiling tiles on the B2 level of the Clinical Center.
Below: As a result, some workstations were practically destroyed.
BEIP

Biomedical Engineering Instrumentation and Personal Property Management (BEIP) experienced a substantial loss of patient care-related equipment and supplies. A remediation crew and BEIP staff cleaned water from Rm. B2S245, removed damaged boxes and supplies, discarded soaked carpeting, installed dehumidifiers and fans and opened up the walls to allow water to drain. The housekeeping and fabric care department (HFCD) sanitized the floors before the walls were repaired and painted and the carpeting in the reception area replaced. Although the flood disrupted BEIP operations, all services critical to the CC were maintained by activation of the materials management department's emergency management plan and the partnership of all MMD sections.

CC Linen Services

All linens stored in affected areas were sent out to be cleaned. Water was also removed from the scrubs storage area; scrubs contained there were replaced. HFCD estimates that it sustained $5,000 in losses, including sheets, towels, slippers, two computers with printers and clean-up time.

DCRI Computer Support; CC's OFM

The CC department of clinical research informatics' B2L104 location housing several user support staff was practically destroyed. DCRI estimates it has lost more than 50 computers; the B2 office was a staging area for CC computer deployment, as well as storage for equipment provided to the nursing units. After about 4 days, all equipment from the area was removed and some salvaged. All furniture, carpeting and ceiling will be replaced and the walls will be surveyed for water damage - a process that will take at least 6 weeks. The CC's Office of Facility Management and the Duke University conference room were also flooded on the B1 level, but staff were able to work in place once the water was cleaned up and dehumidifiers dried out the area.

Timeline of Events

On Tuesday, June 26 at 9 p.m., Christian Ellenes, Facilities Operations Branch shift leader from 4 p.m. to midnight, received a call from the NIH power plant reporting a major drop in chilled water pressure throughout campus. His staff checked every chilled water system on campus and determined that a water booster pump vibration eliminator in Bldg. 10 had blown out, causing major water damage to the carpet, ceiling tiles, computers and other items on the B1 and B2 levels of Bldg. 10. Access through the NIH Library was locked, so the NIH Police Department came to unlock the door.

ORF emergency coordinator John Walker and CC HFCD were notified. Elevators 1 through 4, 13 and 14 were shut down until the water was contained. Staff secured the chilled water system at 9:45 p.m.

The building automated system panel controlling heating and cooling equipment near the South entrance went down from the flood and required immediate repair. Additional personnel worked throughout the night and throughout June 27 to remove water from all affected areas.

Meanwhile, an electrician shut off power in the flooded areas for safety reasons. All electrical devices were unplugged and ground fault interrupters installed at each outlet to protect against electrocution.

After the water was removed from all areas, a sanitizing solution was applied to the floors and any wet drywall, rubber baseboard and plywood were removed and replaced so that mold will not develop.

NIH Police implemented a security system from June 27 through July 9 to check badges of affected staff and clean-up crews moving in and out of the area.

On June 29, NIH staff received computer carts, plastic moving crates, face masks and moving staff assistance to remove their equipment and supplies to their relocated office staging areas.

Status, Contact Info for Affected Departments:

DCRI: Displaced DCRI staff may be contacted by their pagers and via email until the telephones are reconnected.

Biomedical engineering and property management section; housekeeping and linen services: Contact information for staff has not changed.

Medical Arts: Is up and running from the 14th floor solarium, accessible through the main elevators. To check on projects you have with Medical Arts, call (301) 496-4700.

NIH Library: The first floor reading room is open; access to the collections is limited to library staff until the area is re-carpeted. Requests for journal articles and books can be made from the library's web site at nihlibrary.nih.gov.

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