Cleanup of Water Damage at MN Dept. of Health Lab Continues

Updated: 01/07/2014 7:31 PM
Created: 01/07/2014 2:40 PM
By: Leslie Dyste

Cleanup continues after a heating system failure caused water damage and disrupted operations at the Minnesota Department of Health's laboratory.

A lab worker noticed the leak from the ceiling Monday around 7:15 a.m. Within an hour there were two more leaks, and later there were 20 leaks.

Problems with the air handlers impacted 50 of the 200 heating coils, causing big damage. Early estimates suggest the water caused more than $1 million worth of havoc throughout the building.

Had it not been for some quick thinking employees, who quickly began to cover whatever equipment they could with plastic, the damage could have been more widespread and the tab could have run even higher.

The department said Tuesday that crews have stabilized heat in the building and begun repairing broken parts of the heating system. Crews also are removing damaged building materials and repairing electrical equipment. The heating system is expected to be fully restored Wednesday.
Officials say the infectious disease and newborn screening labs may be able to reopen Wednesday. But the second-floor environmental lab sustained the worst damage and will take longer to repair.
Lab officials say no samples or specimens, which are kept in secure storage units, were lost or damaged in the water leaks. But testing on those samples could be delayed, affecting the validity of test results.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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