Valve lift at Irvine Auditorium sends up tower of steam

The valve release is a normal safety measure

· December 17, 2012, 4:18 pm

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Courtesy of Joshua Ramos | DP

One of our readers submitted this photo of what he saw Monday afternoon: Due to pressure, a steam release valve lifted at Irvine Auditorium.


A steam release valve “lifted” at Irvine Auditorium Monday afternoon, causing a tower of steam to release into the air.

“It’s a normal safety measure, it did its job,” said a Facilities and Real Estate Services employee who wished to remain anonymous as he was not authorized to speak on the subject.

When there is too much pressure in the system, the FRES employee said, it releases at one of the safety release valves on campus. He added that steam runs under campus for reasons such as hot water and humidity control.

The steam that the University buys from the company Veolia Environmental Services runs across the Schuylkill River to underneath either Irvine or the Clinical Research Building. The pressure reducing valves lessen the weight of the 250 pounds of steam that passes through them.

In this instance, too much steam became caught in the valve. The FRES worker said he did not know why too much steam was caught in the system.

Division of Public Safety Director of Operations and External Affairs Kathleen Shields Anderson said in an email that the Philadelphia Fire Department “responded to a call at Irvine.”

“Someone called PFD thinking [the steam] was smoke,” she added.

Several facilities workers were working to fix the problem.

Check back for updates.

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