Water damage in Life Sciences building

A leak occurred in building 10 of Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Kleve on Saturday evening, 6 November 2021. The facilities of the Faculty of Life Sciences were affected, particularly the 2nd floor where the leak occurred in a laboratory.

Campus security personnel, who discovered the leak that evening, immediately notified the fire brigade, who eventually managed to pump out the water. The leak affected the entire 2nd floor (by spreading across the floor) and, consequently, both floors below. Only the 3rd floor was unaffected.

A large number of professors and employees familiar with building 10 were notified and quickly made their way to campus to advise the fire brigade on possible risks from stored chemicals, waste and lab samples. They also tried to protect or move materials and equipment to safety to mitigate any further damage. Together, both the fire brigade and employees began clearing out the water. Sensitive installations were covered and protected. A total of seven water pumps were employed. A 1.5 m shaft, which was completely filled with water, was emptied by a submersible pump. The full operation, which included 40 members of the fire brigade, lasted from 19:30 to 23:00.

President Dr Oliver Locker-Grütjen thanked both the fire brigade and employees for their efforts: “We are very thankful that nobody was injured as a result of this leak. University administrators would like to express their gratitude not only to the fire brigade for their outstanding work, but also to the many employees who worked tirelessly that evening to limit damage as much as possible.”

While the leak was ultimately stopped, water was still able to spread throughout the 2nd floor. As a result, we can expect it to seep down into the two floors below over the next few days. According to an initial assessment by the fire brigade, building stability was not compromised by the leak. Damage assessments for equipment, furniture, walls and panelling etc. will occur over the coming days. A water damage mitigation company was hired first thing Monday morning on 8 November 2021 to set up dehumidifiers, take concrete samples etc.

Unfortunately, in-person teaching (such as labs) planned in building 10 this semester will likely be disrupted due to restrictions in terms of access and use of specific facilities. The floors directly affected by the water damage are closed completely; only the 3rd floor is still accessible/usable. “Right now, the goal is to ensure in-person teaching continues and to find suitable alternative arrangements on campus,” stressed Dr Locker-Grütjen. “After many months of restrictions due to the pandemic, we were finally at a point where we could begin offering in-person teaching and lab exercises. We are working hard, particularly for our students, to find solutions for the current situation.” The cause of the leak and the scope of damages will be determined by experts over the coming days. Only after these assessments are available can the duration of restrictions be estimated.