Burst pipe vacates dozens of Lincoln Penitentiary cells
By Bill Kelly , Senior Producer/Reporter Nebraska Public Media
Nov. 11, 2022, 5:30 p.m. ·
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Housing for 140 inmates could be out of commission for up to two years after a broken pipe flooded medium and maximum-security cells at the Nebraska State Penitentiary November 9.
Photos released by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) show large hoses draining water out of mud-coated hallways in a section housing medium to maximum-security inmates.
In a prepared statement released by NDCS, engineering administrator Nate Bornemeier said, “the pipes are made of cast iron, and they are rotting out on the bottom. He claimed there had been similar problems with aging water pipes over the years.
Bornemeier said that based on preliminary estimates, the steps needed to make the building suitable for occupation again “could take the entire housing unit offline for the next one to two years.”
Another photo released by prison officials shows brown water covering half a stairwell leading to the basement. Bornemeier estimated water nine feet deep filled a basement mechanical room, damaging security systems, heating and cooling, and fire protection equipment.
“Anytime you have a water intrusion, you worry about things like mold growth,” he added.
Corrections officers evacuated 134 prisoners to the new Reception and Treatment Center on Lincoln’s west side. NDCS delayed opening cells at that facility for months because of construction delays.
Gov. Pete Ricketts proposed replacing the aging Lincoln penitentiary with a new, 1500-bed prison, estimated to cost $270 million. The Legislature has not given the go-ahead for construction.
The burst pipe did not cause problems for other housing units on the State Penitentiary campus.
Visitations at the facility have been canceled for the weekend.
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