July 6, 2006
Overhead Water Main Leak at National Archives Suitland Facility
College Park, MD…On Sunday afternoon, July 2, an eight-inch water main exploded inside Stack 6 at the Washington National Records Center (WNRC), a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) unit that occupies a General Services Administration-owned and operated facility in Suitland, Maryland. In the facility, WNRC provides storage for records of Federal agencies in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and for the office files of individual members of Congress.
The water main supplies the sprinkler fire protection system inside Stack 6, and the water that spilled from the broken main was contained primarily within the stack. As the water spilled from the broken pipe, it reached a level of 4 inches to 5 inches deep in some areas of the stack. As a result of the leak, the boxes on the bottom shelf throughout the stack-approximately 15,000 Federal Records Center (FRC) boxes-became wet.
After receiving word of the water main break, several NARA staff immediately went to the area to evaluate the situation and initiate recovery efforts, including securing freezer trucks. Air conditioning in Stack 6 was increased to lower both the temperature and relative humidity. Since the sprinkler system was deactivated, National Archives staff continues to monitor Stack 6 around the clock.
The affected FRC boxes are being moved to the freezer trucks on the WNRC compound to ensure that mold does not begin to grow on the records. Once frozen, the records will be freeze-dried to eliminate any distortion, expansion, or warping.
WNRC staff members are notifying all Federal agencies whose records were affected. The NARA Congressional Affairs staff is notifying the Members of Congress whose records are affected.
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For further information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700.