A hot water pipe broke, flooding the southeast portion of the chemistry building at approximately 4 am on Tuesday, Oct. 23. The break, which took place on the sixth floor of the building, damaged several floors below, extending to the third floor.
When the pipe burst, Stony Brook University fire marshals were contacted by the automated alarm system in the building. Campus Operations and Maintenance was alerted to shut off the water, but the damage had already been done.
Rich Burst, a fifth year graduate student who works in the lab where the pipe originally broke, stated that when he arrived at 8 am there was still two inches of water covering the floor.
“It covered 75 percent of the sixth floor in one way,” said Deborah Stoner-Ma, the director of laboratories for the Department of Chemistry.
The damage inflicted was significant, but not detrimental to any current experiments or studies taking place, according to Burst. The majority of what needs to be replaced, as far as infrastructure, in the floors affected is ceiling and floor tiles. “Those things just turn into nasty oatmeal,” said Burst referring to the damaged done to the ceiling tiles in his lab.
“The biggest things we’ve lost is the time. This whole week has just been a wash,” he said.
The total damage in the main lab is still being assessed, but there is a possibility that the department has lost sustainable equipment. A machine, used for high-performance liquid chromatography, was located in a room adjacent to the pipe break and is potentially broken, according to Burst, which may cost the department “tens of thousands of dollars.”
Unfortunately the cost of the damaged equipment will not be covered by insurance.
“The university does not carry insurance. It’s called ‘self-insurance.’ Where the money will come from, I don’t know,” said Stoner-Ma. “The Chemistry Department would like to send a huge thank you to the many people who assisted and are continuing to assist with the aftermath of the 6th floor flooding.”
Mike Teta, the building manager for the chemistry building, said that the department still “doesn’t know the cause,” of the break but that an investigation is being conducted.
“This is just some freak occurrence from what we know. It had nothing to do with the way we were using the lab,” said Burst.