Tropical Storm Irene Recovery Effort
32 Flooded State Scientists and Technicians Will Call UVM Home For Next Six to Nine Months
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Thirty-two scientists and technicians who worked in state laboratories in Waterbury flooded by tropical storm Irene are relocating to labs at the University of Vermont for six to nine months as their home labs are either renovated or rebuilt.
The university is providing the space at no cost.
The moves began the week of Sept. 19 and will continue through the week of Oct. 17. In some cases the labs belong to UVM faculty who have agreed to share space or have voluntarily moved elsewhere. In others the labs are vacant because faculty searches are underway or new faculty have not yet begun at the university.
Eight scientists from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will relocate to four labs in the Terrill Building. The space will allow them to continue regular dairy and animal health testing and identification of agricultural invasive pests, as well as focus on issues related to flooding caused by Irene, which they will do in partnership with UVM faculty in the departments of Animal Science and Plant and Soil Science. The work will include testing crops for mycotoxin and pesticide residue, testing of dairy products for bacteria and antibiotics, and animal health testing.
The scientists and technicians from the Department of Environmental Conservation work in the department’s Water Quality division – 18 from the Environmental Biology Lab and six from the Environmental Chemistry Lab. They will move to two large labs in James M. Jeffords Hall associated with the departments of Plant Biology and Plant and Soil Science and will continue their work monitoring the state’s air, water and soil quality. Nine of the scientists are field biologists who will use the Jeffords Hall labs only sporadically.
“Among its many adverse impacts, tropical storm Irene disrupted vital scientific work – some of it related to the effects of the flooding it caused – that was conducted by two state laboratories in Waterbury,” said Tom Vogelmann, dean of UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We are glad to be in a position to offer appropriate laboratory space – and the support of our faculty – to both the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Department of Environmental Conservation so this important work can continue.”
“We are incredibly grateful to our partners at UVM for providing our scientists with the space they need to get the job done,” said Chuck Ross, secretary of agriculture. It is crucial for the agency to resume our traditional scope of work as well as expand our testing capabilities in order to support our farmers in the wake of Irene.”
"UVM's willingness to share laboratory space with the department's scientists has lifted our spirits,” said David Mears, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. “We look forward to getting back to the important work of measuring the environmental quality of our state's air, water and soil, particularly in a setting where we are surrounded by the distinguished faculty at UVM."
The flooded laboratories for both the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and Department of Environmental Conservation are located in the complex of buildings at 103 South Main St. in Waterbury.