Press/Journalists

August 26, 2011

National Archives Suitland Facility Remains Closed from Earthquake Damage

Washington, DC…Assessments are continuing of the earthquake damage at the National Archives Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD. Based on preliminary review by engineers, the facility will remain closed through Monday, August 29, 2011. A full review will determine when the facility will reopen. During an extensive walkthrough, National Archives Executive for Agency Services Jay Bosanko has determined that there is no known permanent damage to any records.

In a statement Mr. Bosanko said, “Our first and foremost priority is the safety of our employees and visitors to the building. We are working closely with the General Services Administration to ensure that we achieve that before we reopen the doors. We are also paying close attention to the security of the records that we store for our customers, federal agencies and members of Congress.”

From a preliminary evaluation, damage from Tuesday’s earthquake and its aftershocks includes spalling and cracking of masonry in internal walls and stairwells, a small water leak in one stack area, and a limited amount of shelving failures in a vault within one stack area. In the shelving failures, several rows of shelving shifted into other rows or walls, causing minor crushing of some boxes of records.  The records, however, appear to have remained intact. Masonry debris has fallen in the perimeter aisles of stacks and in the internal stairwells of the building.

During the closure, a small team of National Archives staff members are on-site to coordinate the response, prepare for potential complications from Hurricane Irene, and to service a limited number of emergency requests from federal agencies.

Background

The Washington National Records Center is a part of the National Archives and Records Administration’s Federal Records Centers Program.  It is one of the largest records centers in the system, storing approximately 4 million cubic feet of records in 20 separate stack areas.  Each year, it accepts 250,000 cubic feet of transfers, and services 500,000 reference requests,.  The records center houses the most diverse collection of Federal records in the Federal Records Centers Program, including records on a variety of media from several hundred Federal agencies in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia area.

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