Pipe leak leads to mold growth in Gordon Wilson

WKU boiler specialists and Lyons Company employees repair a damaged steam pipe in the 3-foot crawl space beneath Gordon Wilson Hall on Jan. 30, 2015. The pipe developed a leak which spread moisture inside the crawl space, encouraging the growth of mold in one of the building’s prop rooms. The building, which is now used for dance and theater classes, was built in 1926 when asbestos insulation was an industry standard. In order to work on the leaking pipe, an abatement team from Romac, Inc. removed and contained the asbestos and mold, before the boiler technicians could enter the crawlspace. Due to the number of individual and often fragile props that may need special cleaning, abatement in the most affected room may take until the end of next week. Leanora Benkato/HERALD

A steam pipe leak has led to mold growth in one of the academic buildings on campus.

David Oliver, director of Environmental Health and Safety, said the leaking pipe was located underneath Gordon Wilson Hall. Steam and moisture entered in one of the building’s prop rooms through a manhole.

 Oliver said because the pipe leak was underground, he was unsure of when the leak started.

“There was some moisture and steam that came out of a manhole cover that’s inside the building,” he said. 

The room sustained water damage, which led to the mold buildup inside the room.

Bryan Russell, chief facilities officer, said the leak was discovered early last week. Russell said it took some time to find the source of the leak because of it was in the prop room.

“People aren’t in those spaces very often,” he said. 

Clean up and repair is being taken care of quickly, he said.

Russell said the leak was caused largely by the age of the pipe, which dates back to the 1950s.

Before the leak could be fixed, asbestos that was used as pipe insulation had to be abated and removed, Russell said. 

Built in 1927, Gordon Wilson Hall houses the Theatre & Dance department. The Gordon Wilson lab theater holds rehearsals for nearly every production, both dance and drama.  

Mayfield senior Jade Primicias plans to hold a dance recital for her honors thesis in the Lab Theater. 

She and fellow dance majors have understood for a long time that Gordon Wilson was in “rough shape.”

“I heard a little while back there was asbestos and mold, but they didn’t make a big deal about it, so we didn’t either,” Primicias said. 

It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that Primicias noticed something out of the ordinary, as repair crews went in and out of her dance class.

As rehearsals continue in Gordon Wilson for upcoming productions, Primicias said she worries about what the future of the building – and those productions – will be. 

“I’m worried that the more work they do, the more problems they’ll find,” she said. “As far as the actual issues, they never really explained to us what it was. People would joke about breathing in asbestos and mold… we don’t know if this is bad for our health breathing in all of this stuff because we haven’t been told anything.”

For now, the show – and practices -must go on.