Public Safety

University of Northern Iowa worker dies in steam tunnel

Monday morning 'major' leak caused death, officials say

A driver drives through the gateway of the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, June 23, 2011, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (The Gazette/Jim Slosiarek)
A driver drives through the gateway of the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, June 23, 2011, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (The Gazette/Jim Slosiarek)

A University of Northern Iowa employee died Monday morning following a “major steam leak” in the Rialto Dining Facility.

Kevin J. Bley, 61, died as a result of injuries from the incident in the steam distribution system tunnel.

Bley had worked at UNI for more than 10 years as a steamfitter.

“UNI is built upon a campus culture of caring, and today our campus has lost a dedicated employee,” stated President Mark Nook in a statement.

The university reported the incident just after 10 a.m. Monday.

According to the initial report, UNI facilities services informed administrators of a major steam leak at 8:39 a.m. in the Rialto — one of two major dining facilities on the Cedar Falls campus.

Bley “was in the vicinity of the steam leak,” according to the initial report, which noted that emergency personnel were working to assess the leak.

The dining facility had been closed for maintenance since Sept. 4, when a steam leak had been reported, according to UNI spokesman Aaron Clingingsmith.

No other workers were injured, Clingingsmith said.

Officials didn’t immediately say whether Bley was working to resolve the earlier leak or why he was in the tunnel.

UNI has asked national engineering firm, HBK Engineering LLC, to perform an independent third-party review of protocols and procedures.

UNI officials said they expect to release more information as it becomes available.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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