Nfld. & Labrador

University 'munnel' system shut down for asbestos removal

A portion of MUN's underground tunnel system — the munnel — will remain closed until fall.

The tunnel system connecting MUN buildings expected to reopen in time for fall semester

The university said it anticipates the job will be completed in time for the fall semester. (Memorial University )

You'll likely see more foot traffic around campus this summer at Memorial University in St. John's.

That's because a large section of the underground tunnel that connects buildings — commonly referred to as the "munnel" system — has been shut down to remove hazardous asbestos materials. 

According to university spokesperson David Sorensen, repairs are being done on a section of the tunnel that runs between the education building and the east portion of the science building.

The 'munnel' system will be closed while the university works to replace a ceiling system full of asbestos. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

The repairs, which are estimated to cost $626,000, will shut down underground access to six campus buildings: the science and chemistry-physics buildings, the Bruneau Centre, the Queen Elizabeth II Library, as well as the physical education and education buildings. 

MUN said a small section of the tunnel system that runs beneath the education building will remain open, as will the system between the science building and Paton College residence buildings. 

An asbestos abatement process is necessary, according to MUN. That means not only asbestos-bearing materials must be removed, but the entire work area must be enclosed to prevent the release of harmful airborne fibres.

Underground access to six campus buildings, including the science building pictured above, will be impacted. (Cec Haire/CBC)

The university said it was ordered by the fire department to install proper fire protection walls between the tunnel and the adjacent buildings — as well as in the ceiling of the tunnel.

The existing ceiling contains asbestos and the entire ceiling will be removed, fire separation gaps filled and a new ceiling system installed. The mechanical ventilation system supplying fresh air to the tunnel will also be replaced.

Work is scheduled to be finished before the beginning of the fall semester. MUN said work was initially supposed to start last year but was delayed until now.