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LeMans steam not dangerous

Liz Harter | Monday, November 10, 2008

Students living in and walking through LeMans the past few weeks have probably noticed a cloud of steam being released from a vent intermittently near the west entrance of LeMans Hall.

Junior Mary Ellen Toth, who saw the steam for the first time about a month ago when walking out of the building, said it looked like a snowstorm from inside.

“There was a lot of steam coming from the pipes,” Toth said. “From a distance [outside] it probably looked like the building was on fire.”

The white steam, which reappeared on Saturday, Nov. 1 and continued throughout the day, is accompanied with a loud sound which can be heard both in Reinbeaux Lounge, just inside the residence hall’s lobby, and outside the building.

Saint Mary’s Director of Facilities Bill Hambling told The Observer that while the steam is a “noisy, loud and scary sounding thing” it is not dangerous.

“The steam that is releasing is not a danger to anyone,” he said. “In fact, it is a good thing that the steam pressure is relieving itself.”

The steam is coming from the residence hall’s heating system relief valves, he said.

Hambling said the relief valve is functioning as it should, but it needs to be constantly monitored and adjusted as the weather conditions outside change from warm to cold rapidly because the temperature affects the heating demands from LeMans.

“We are monitoring it daily and rest assured no one is in any danger,” he said.

Hambling also said there have been steam issues with the Central Utility Plant at the College that have been rectified as well.

David Coleman, the College’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning mechanic, will be periodically checking the valves at LeMans to make sure they are continuing to work properly, Hambling said.