A Steam Pipe Burst, Shutting Down the New England Aquarium for the Day

Don't worry, no animals were harmed.

photo by Margaret Burdge

photo by Margaret Burdge

The New England Aquarium shut its doors for the day on Wednesday after a steam pipe in the basement burst, causing a loud popping noise and loss of power in the building.

Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse told Boston that the unexpected incident occurred a little after 10 a.m., and power was lost for nearly an hour. Like a lot of buildings in the district where the Aquarium is located, they rely on steam for their facilities. He said it was the first time in his 13 years working with the Aquarium that anything like this has happened.

A tourist visiting from Kansas City, who was at the Aquarium when the pipe in the basement burst, said they heard a “loud explosion and rushing water” before workers evacuated patrons, according to a Reddit post.

“That loud noise was a pipe rupturing, and then what happened is the steam from the pipe affected our electric utilities and we evacuated the building,” LaCasse said.

LaCasse said officials from the Boston Fire Department showed up at the scene, and the issue was taken care of almost immediately, however, the facility had to remain closed so that they could “reset tank settings,” and get their systems back in place.

According to LaCasse, no animals were harmed after the loss of power and system pressure due to the sudden changes in temperatures. “That’s always our biggest concern when we have any kind of a power outage. Most of the animals that people—ironically—are most attracted to are air-breathers. But our fish are much more dependent. In that case, you have to worry about residual oxygen levels in the water,” he said.

Luckily, the Aquarium has a stringent emergency response protocol in place, and workers were able to tend to the animals accordingly.

“They have an emergency plan in terms of knowing what animals should be the first to check on,” he said.

The Aquarium will reopen on Thursday, as maintenance crews look into what caused the steam pipe to rupture, and make necessary repairs.