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Power Surge Causes Blackout

By Eva Moy
News Editor

An electrical surge at about 1 a.m. yesterday caused a power outage at East Campus and disrupted Athena usage on a variety of machines. All electrical systems were completely re-established by 5 a.m., according to Thomas E. Shepherd, Jr., associate director of Physical Plant.

The fluctuation was caused by a malfunction in the primary switch which serves the 2300-volt distribution system on campus, according to Utilities Superintendent Roger Moore. The 2300-volt system serves many of the older buildings, while a 13,800-volt system serves the rest of the newer buildings on campus.

When the fuses blew, one of the feeder cables which delivers power to Buildings 2, 4, 8, 12, 17, 20, 24, 26, 31, 33, and 35 went down for between 90 minutes and two hours, Shepherd said.

In addition, the power at East Campus went out, although Shepherd said he did not know the exact reason. "When there is a short in the primary system, there is an effect" in other systems, so it is "likely" that other groups of electrically-connected buildings were affected, Shepherd said.

Those buildings were put under power restrictions yesterday, he said.

Athena usage disrupted

The power surge disabled operations on DEC 3100, DEC 5000, and IBM RS6000 machines, according to Athena Consultant Chad P. Brown '94. These machines retrieve many of their applications remotely from other machines, and once all the machines were running again, it took between 30 and 45 minutes for word processors and similar programs to become available.

In addition, the print server for the Athena cluster in Building 11 was physically damaged, Brown said. People will be able to print in the Building 11 cluster once the print server is replaced Monday, he added.

The network router in Building W91 also went down temporarily because of an air conditioning failure. This shutdown affected the operations of the Cray and Patriot computers, Brown said.