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Esker Hall could re-open Monday

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ANN MARIE AMES
April 20, 2008
— UW-Whitewater is “making every effort” to reopen Esker Dining Hall and returning steam service and hot water to campus.

Esker Hall could re-open Monday. Steam and hot water could be restored Thursday.


A boiler in the campus’ power plant exploded around noon Wednesday, leaving the entire campus without heat or hot water for several days.


The blast released asbestos, which is complicating cleanup.


Contractors on Wednesday had been performing routine maintenance on the backup boiler as part of a switch from natural gas to fuel oil, said Greg Swanson, director of facilities planning and management. Pressure built up in the fuel injectors, which likely caused the explosion.


The power plant building is sound, UW-W wrote in a press release. But the blast damaged a main valve in the steam system. And the explosion released asbestos into the power plant and surrounding area.


To repair the valve, specially trained workers will work high above ground wearing HAZMAT suits, according to the press statement. A bypass pipe will be installed to bring steam and hot water onto campus while the valve is fixed.


Workers did not find asbestos in Esker Dining Hall, but the hall was closed because asbestos was found near the building’s intake vents. Once that is cleaned up, the building’s air filters will be replaced and more testing will be done.


Residence hall staff has been monitoring the temperature in the halls. Because of the mild weather, temperatures ranged from the upper-60s to mid-70s in the halls Friday morning.


Hot showers for students in the residence halls were available at the Athletic Services Building beginning Friday.


Additional updates on the cleanup efforts and the return of steam service will be made available on the school’s Web site, www.uww.edu.



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