WSU Tri-Cities buildings to close for remodel work

Taking advantage of the Veteran’s Day holiday Nov. 11, when the north Richland campus – with the exception of the library – will be closed, WSU Tri-Cities officials have announced an additional Friday (Nov. 12) closure of two campus buildings to facilitate removal of outdated equipment from a lower floor laboratory.

“On Friday, we will relocate about 60 staff members, faculty and students from both the East and West Buildings to other areas of the campus,” said Chancellor Larry James.  Only four classes were scheduled in the buildings on Friday.

The WSU Bookie, located in the East Building, will close for the day. All other campus facilities will be open Friday. Both the East and West Buildings will also be closed Saturday, but there is little campus activity on that weekend.

The building closures are a precautionary measure, so workers can complete the dismantling of an old solar reaction unit from an out-of-use lab. The bulky equipment was once part of a solar energy research project, where it was used to apply metal coatings to small photovoltaic cells. The equipment has been idle for about three years.

“A variety of compounds were used in that equipment over the years and, even though it’s not been operated in a long time and the lines and pipes have all been drained, we are taking every precaution should there be any minute quantities remaining,” said Gene Schreckhise, WSU Tri-Cities associate dean.

A crew from HazMat Services of California will remove the old equipment, operating under strict safety standards.  “The people working on the project will wear chemical protective safety suits, with breathing apparatus. People might see what is going on and wonder, so we’re putting out notice to our neighbors as to just what this procedure involves,” Schreckhise said.

The dismantling process will begin Thursday morning and estimates are the bulk of the work will be completed by midday on Friday, but could extend into Saturday (Nov. 13).