Power Outage Update

From Freeman Hrabowski, President and Lynne Schaefer, Vice President, Administration and Finance

We are pleased to announce that power has been restored to all academic and administrative buildings and occupied residence halls. We thank the staff and faculty from across the campus who have worked around the clock to respond to this emergency. Their leadership, hard work, and cooperation preserved campus safety and critical operations as we faced this major challenge.

An emergency of this scale naturally raises concerns, and we want to be sure the campus community is fully informed about the event and steps taken to safeguard our community and operations. We have asked leaders in Facilities Management, Campus Police, and Environmental Safety and Health to share details about these efforts in a brief online video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzkDIRoLeuY). We also share similar information in print below.

  • On Thursday, June 2, at about 8:30 p.m., a switch at the power substation at the athletic field complex failed and caught fire. The failure of this switch caused an overload to the main campus power transformer at Central Plant, and the transformer exploded and caught fire, causing the power failure. The Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department extinguished both fires. No one was injured in this incident, and it was not the result of foul play.
  • The UMBC Environmental Safety and Health Department was on the scene by 8:40 p.m. and immediately contacted the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to oversee clean up of mineral oil sprayed over grass and gravel near the Central Plant. The contaminated soil and gravel were removed following MDE guidelines. MDE also continues to monitor streams near the campus to be certain there is no run-off contamination.
  • Students on campus for summer programs were temporarily moved to a single residence hall with temporary generated power, and arrangements were made to provide meals while campus food service operations were shut down.
  • Temporary generated power was established for buildings housing critical scientific research facilities, including Schwarz Hall, Sondheim Hall, and the Engineering Building. Facilities Management staff worked individually with many faculty to meet particular lab needs.
  • Critical IT operations were consolidated on one server to conserve power and cooling capacity. Payroll processing required on June 3 was completed through the efforts of the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) and the HR Department. Throughout this week, DoIT has worked to restore normal campus operations.

The effective emergency response ensured both the safety of people and continuity of vital operations. BGE has expressed great surprise at the speed of our recovery, given the scale of the damage. At the same time, we know this event has been a major disruption for the campus and a learning experience in many ways. We have appreciated the patience and cooperation of faculty, staff, and students as we have worked together to meet the challenge.

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