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Six workers injured at UCLA while pumping floodwater

Colleges and UniversitiesUCLA
6 workers pumping floodwater @UCLA treated for carbon monoxide exposure, 2 of them hospitalized

Two workers are recovering after they were hospitalized Wednesday for inhaling exhaust fumes from a generator while pumping floodwater out of a building at UCLA, officials said.

Four others who were also exposed to the fumes at Pauley Pavilion athletic center shortly before 7 p.m. were treated on site, Los Angeles fire officials said.

The two workers who were taken to the hospital were listed in fair condition Wednesday night. They were the first reported injuries tied to the rupture of a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power water main that officials said sent some 20 million gallons of water onto the campus from Sunset Boulevard.

The pavilion, which recently underwent a $136-million renovation, was at one point saturated in up to 10 inches of water during the flood. University officials on Wednesday said the building's hardwood floor will have to be replaced, officials said.

An estimated 900 vehicles, meanwhile, remain marooned on the campus as crews continue to drain parking garages of standing water.

Officials said there are concerns about the water mixing with oils and gasoline from the cars, creating a hazardous-waste concern.

Crews are testing the water to make sure that the liquid stew is not becoming explosive or flammable. They were also monitoring the levels of pollution in the water before they pump it out into the sewer system.

“They sometimes have to slow it down,” UCLA spokeswoman Carol Stogsdill said of the pumping, noting that the two garages smell of gasoline.

In a briefing at the ramp entrance to the darkened parking lot 4 garage on Wednesday, Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor of facilities management, said that although water remained in structures 4 and 7, it was being removed at a rate of 4,000 gallons per minute. Pumping any faster could create carbon monoxide risks, he said.

On Wednesday, Stogsdill said the university believes the DWP should be held liable for the extensive damage caused by the deluge of water that descended on the campus Tuesday.

DWP officials said they are working with the university and affected parties through it’s regular claims process for damages.

Times staff writers Matt Stevens  and Larry Gordon contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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