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Friday, June 22, 2007

Freak accident closes CMU

A severed power line under Lot 22 caused the closure of Central Michigan University Friday afternoon.
University spokesman Steve Smith said a freak accident caused the break in the power line. According to Smith, a concrete delivery truck involved in a project on campus ran over a manhole cover in the huge parking lot, dislodging the lid.
Manhole covers aren't supposed to fit down manholes, but for reasons that haven't been explained yet, this one fell down the hole. It hit a power line running in the tunnel below the parking lot.
"The manhole cover severed a primary feeder line," Smith said. That knocked out power to some parts of campus immediately, including CMU Public Broadcasting's transmitters on the south end of campus.
But to make it safe for crews to repair the damage, the rest of the extensive high-voltage lines running through the tunnel had to be de-energized. Most of the main campus's electrical power runs through the tunnel, Smith said.
Power was to be shut down about 2:30 p.m. Friday, and the university announced that repairs could take as long as eight to 10 hours.
Most classes were over for the week, but university offices had been open. Kathie Elliott, assistant director of employee relations, said in an e-mail to campus employees that the university's pay practice for an official closure would be in place.
"Questions about this will be answered next week," Elliott's Friday afternoon e-mail said.
Employees deemed essential to university operations were being notified about whether or not they should report to work; others simply were sent home.
"As with our electrical shutdown in May, employees and faculty should make every effort to turn off and unplug equipment in their work area before leaving," Elliott said.


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