Power outage results in death of animals
Published: Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 01:06
More than two years worth of research on some projects is lost, after almost 700 Ohio State research animals died Wednesday, as a result of a power failure in Graves Hall.
At around 6 p.m., one of the two power feeds to the building, located at 333 W. 10th Ave., near the Medical Center, went out. The back-up power feed was also down, because of a nearby construction project and, as a result, the air conditioning failed, causing temperatures to reach the 80s in some rooms and as high as 100 degrees, or more, in others, said Earle Holland, director of OSU Research Communications.
"We're still investigating exactly what happened," Holland said. "We won't know for sure what occurred until we go back and look at it step-by-step."
Holland said it is not clear what happened, but the pieces are being put together.
After the power failure between 6 - 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the emergency generators in the building turned on, but they only supplied enough power to operate one elevator, emergency lighting and the fans in the heating and cooling system, Holland said. In addition, the heat kicked in, causing the extreme temperatures in some rooms, he said.
OSU buildings use steam heat and it is normal for the heat to come on during a power outage, to avoid pipes freezing during the winter, Holland said.
Why the heat came on this day is still unclear.
The power was restored around 2 a.m. Thursday. Researchers working in the building discovered the animals early that morning.
There is an alarm set to activate if the temperature becomes too hot or cold in Graves Hall, but because of the power outage it was not working, said Doug Kniss, senior associate vice president for research.
In all, 598 mice, 90 rats and one rabbit died. There were more than 5,100 animals in the building involved in various types of research including: multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy.
Some thought the research was not the tragedy at all.
"When I was reading the news reports of what happened, I was appalled," said Kristie Stoick, research analyst Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. "I kept reading about all the research that was lost and nothing really about the number of animals that died. There were over 700 - that's significant."
Her company is based in Washington, D.C. and works to eliminate the use of animals in laboratory research experiments across the country.
"We're trying to look at the situation at Graves and determine did the system work the way it was supposed to or were there problems? And did everybody do what they were supposed to in that regard?" Holland said. "At this time it's too early to tell."
"We should know what happened by mid-week," Kniss said.
Kniss also said that it is too early to know what the monetary damages will be, but that the lost research is more significant. Right now, he said, the focus is on what failed and why.
"That is the reason for the investigation," Kniss said. "So we can find out what fell through the cracks and make sure nothing like this happens again."