Asbestos in the air

A heavy stream of black water flowed from the ceiling of Kea North 2nd on March 13. 

The flood water displaced many students and uncovered asbestos in the Kea North halls.

Who would have thought throwing around a balled up newspaper covered in duct tape could cause such destruction? Certainly not the five young men involved in this crisis.

“We just wanted to play dodgeball and, by covering the newspaper in duct tape, it hurt a lot more,” said sophomore Mike Giachetti, who was involved in the incident. “We were just doing it for fun. Boys will be boys.”

However, the makeshift dodgeball quickly turned into a weapon when it hit a ceiling sprinkler and knocked it off.

Plant Operations explained that water poured from the ceiling at a rate of about 200 gallons per minute.

Plant operations General Mechanic Kevin Comber reached the scene in about 10 minutes.
By that time, about 1,000 gallons of water had poured into Kea North.

Normally Plant Operation workers are not on campus Saturday nights, but Comber was working on a power outage when the sprinkler accident occurred.

If Comber had not been on campus, the flooding would have certainly been much worse.
“The boys involved in this incident will absolutely be accountable,” Kea-Guffin Resident Director Theresa Noye said. “The punishment is undecided at this time.”

The flood caused bubbling in the linoleum and a strong stench throughout Kea.

Giachetti, who resides on Kea North 2nd, explained that, even though the sprinkler exploded on his hall, Kea North 1st suffered the worst of the damage because the water sank through the floor, flooding rooms and exposing asbestos.

Carl Altomare, director of campus services, notes that it is common to find asbestos in older buildings. To remove the asbestos, licensed environmental professionals were called to help. 

“The goal was to remove all of the asbestos so none of it got into the students’ living spaces,” Altomare said.

All 18 rooms on Kea 1st and many rooms on Kea 2nd were evacuated. Students on the 2nd floor were allowed to enter their rooms after one day, once the rooms had been dried and vacuumed.

However, Kea 1st needed a lot more work because of the asbestos that was discovered, and students were barred from their rooms for three nights.

At first, evacuated students were a little upset about having to leave their rooms, but overall they took it pretty well.

“I wore the same jeans for four days in a row,” sophomore Gavin Donnelly said. “When leaving my room I only grabbed bare essentials–toothpaste, a towel and a few shirts.”
Students were not sure how long they would have to stay out of their rooms or if they would be allowed to go back for basic supplies.

Noye worked with the displaced students. She tried to find places for them to stay–any kind of empty room. 

“I tried to make the guys as comfortable as possible, staying in touch with them to make sure everyone was okay,” Noye said.

Noye kept the students up-to-date with the progress of their rooms. On their return, she reassured the students that the asbestos was completely gone and that they would not be back if it was not safe.

After four days, Kea 1st was approved for living again and students were allowed to return to their  rooms. Students were rewarded with a pizza party for all of their displacement troubles.

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