A corroded, 15-year-old pipe caused flooding that forced the temporary closure of the Bethune Building at Halifax's Victoria General Hospital site.

Steven MacIsaac, a supervisor for engineering services for the health authority, said the cap on the copper pipe popped off sometime early Monday morning and gushed water for about two or three hours before it was discovered around 4:15 a.m.

"The water just poured out of here for probably two hours, we're assuming, from the timeline," said MacIsaac. "I've been involved in three of four floods and this is by far the worst. There's quite a bit of damage here."

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A corroded, 15-year-old pipe caused flooding that forced the temporary closure of the building. (CBC)

Water damage in the east wing of the building — closest to South Park Street — goes from the fifth floor to the basement, said Peter Graham, spokesman for Capital District Health Authority.

Graham said the building is an older residence that used to be a nursing school that had a sink in almost every room. About 15 years ago, the health authority decided to remove many of the old sinks, capping the water pipes in the walls to make more space for offices.

"One of the caps on one of the pipes gave way early on Monday morning, we're not exactly sure what time, and we discovered it at about 4:15 on Monday morning," he said.

"During that time a lot of water flooded down from the sixth floor all the way to the basement."

The building is now primarily used as office space for human resources, information technology support and other administration departments.

A commercial cleaner spent Monday beginning cleanup work and the entire building was closed Tuesday as a precautionary measure.

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The building's east side will be closed until officials deem the air quality safe for workers to return. (CBC)

He said air quality in the building is being monitored closely.

"Especially in the areas that actually did have water damage, we'll be testing moisture in the walls on a regular basis. We'll be doing air quality testing," said Graham.

"We'll make an assessment by the end of the week on whether we're comfortable, in terms of the working conditions in the building, whether or not we can allow people in this part of the building to return to work next week."

Parts of the Bethune Building's west side, unaffected by the flooding, will reopen on Wednesday.

Maritime Centre also flooded

There were water problems at another building a few blocks away on Tuesday. A pipe burst at around 2 p.m. at the Maritime Centre on Barrington Street.

The pipe was in the ceiling of the lobby. The water supply was cut off inside the entire building.

The only working bathrooms were on the first floor.

A spokesperson for Fortis Properties said the sprinkler system was working.

Crews hoped to have the problem fixed sometime Tuesday evening.