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Wing Kruyt building vacated; damage to research

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A power outage in the Kruyt building caused damage to the plant research of Utrecht biologists on Tuesday. The incident seems to increase dissatisfaction with the upcoming renovation of the building.

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The power outage meant that employees in the south wing of the building had to leave their workplace for an hour and a half on Tuesday afternoon. The emergency plan came into effect when two emergency generators refused service. The units were set up because construction work was carried out on the regular power supply to the Kruyt building.

In an e-mail to the employees in the building, the Kruyt coordination team says it regrets the incident. The new team has been housed in the building for a few weeks now to improve communication with beta researchers. This was decided after many researchers had reacted with disapproval to the UU Executive Board's unexpected decision to renovate the building while it was still in use.

Throw away plants
The e-mail calls on researchers to report any damage to their research. The disruption seems to have mainly led to problems with the Fytotron. There, in seventeen climate chambers on the second floor, it is investigated, among other things, how plants respond to environmental factors such as light and temperature.

According to Diederik Keuskamp, manager of the Fytotron, the damage mainly concerns lost time of scientists. No equipment was lost. "But some researchers can now throw away their plants because the power outage has disrupted the controlled research environment."

It remains to be determined exactly to what extent the approximately hundred researchers have been affected by this, says the Fytotron administrator. "I assume that the damage is ultimately determined in terms of ‘weeks’ of lost research time. It will then have to be considered how these employees will be compensated."

There is great frustration among the researchers involved, Keuskamp notes. And not only because of the immediate problems that now arise. According to him, a part of those involved also associate the power outage with the controversial renovation of the Kruyt building. "The confidence that this can go well seems to have fallen even further."

Even worse
Real Estate & Campus spokesperson Dennis Walta says that he understands the sentiment among the beta students. "It's a logical response."

However, according to him, the incident itself had nothing to do with the state of the building. Just to be sure, two emergency generators were placed to exclude problems during regular construction work. When the first generator failed, the second did not take over the power supply. The company that supplied the generators is currently investigating what went wrong. According to various people involved, including Keuskamp, there were problems earlier in the day. According to Walta, this will also be looked into.

“Of course we also realise that this is not possible. The research of the people in the building must always be paramount. With the new coordination team, we want to guarantee that this is always the case. Then it is even worse if such a thing occurs. But unfortunately it is the researchers who have been hit the hardest."

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