Ottawa

Canada Science and Technology Museum to remove deteriorating landmarks

The Canada Science and Technology Museum, which closed abruptly in September after unsafe levels of mould in the air were discovered, is now dismantling two landmarks on its front lawn "for safety reasons related to their deterioration," it announced in a media release Tuesday afternoon.

Atlas Rocket and oil pumpjack to be dismantled from Technology Park for 'safety reasons,' museum says

The oil pumpjack and Atlas Rocket are deteriorating and will be removed from outside the Canada Science and Technology Museum for safety reasons, the museum said. (CBC)

The Canada Science and Technology Museum, which closed abruptly in September after unsafe levels of mould in the air were discovered, is now dismantling two landmarks on its front lawn "for safety reasons related to their deterioration," it announced in a media release Tuesday afternoon.

The Atlas Rocket, on display in Technology Park in front of the museum, had been on loan from the United States Air Force since 1973.
The Atlas Rocket was donated to the Canada Science and Technology Museum by the U.S. Air Force in 1973. (CBC)

Its fuel tank, made of 27 sections of thin stainless steel, requires constant pressurization to prevent it from crumbling on itself, the museum said.

"Over the years, weathering has deteriorated it. It has not been air tight for many years, and a compressor coupled to a generator have been required to maintain its internal pressure to prevent it from collapsing upon itself," the museum said. 

"As its deterioration advances and becomes more severe, practical solutions to maintain the required internal pressure to prevent it from crumpling and potentially injuring visitors to [the] Technology Park are running out." 

The museum said it will dispose of the rocket as advised by the U.S. Air Force, which does not want it back.

The oil pumpjack, which was used in Saskatchewan before the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers donated it to the museum in 1967, will also be removed and kept in a museum storage facility.

"Weathering has also damaged the oil pumpjack over the years, leading to fears some pieces could detach and injure Technology Park visitors," the museum said.

The time of removal will "depend on the judgment of contractors" hired for the task.

Museum expected to reopen in 2017 after upgrades

In September, the museum was forced to close after tests revealed high levels of airborne mould as a result of a leaky roof.

The museum had been asking the federal government for funding as early as 2010 to help fix the leaky roof whose "lifecycle had come to an end," according to documents obtained by CBC News through an access to information request.

Documents also revealed that trace amounts of asbestos were found inside the museum in October 2013.

In November 2014, after the museum was forced to close, the federal government announced $80.5 million to fund major renovations, including a new roof, an upgraded facade, updates to the exhibit space and a retrofit of the building to meet updated fire and earthquake-resistance codes. The museum is expected to reopen in 2017.

Mayor Jim Watson said the government "blind-sided" the city with its decision, as he and others had been promoting the idea of a new building for the museum in a more central location, such as LeBreton Flats.

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