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Minnesota health, ag labs damaged

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's health and agriculture laboratories near the state Capitol building are closed after the building's heating system failed early Monday.

Repairs could cost at least $1 million.

During bitterly cold weather, some building systems froze, causing significant water leaks in several areas of the building, a Health Department spokesman said.

The state Health and Agriculture departments have labs in the building, next to where the two agencies' main offices are located just southeast of the Capitol.

On Monday, crews worked to stop the leaks and protect equipment, samples and supplies. They removed much of the equipment from flooded areas, the Health Department reported.

Heat was partially restored by late Monday.

The Health Department suspended testing in the infectious disease and environmental laboratories through at least Tuesday. In some cases, specimens are being accepted and then sent to a contractor.

Health Laboratory Director Joanne Bartkus said several major pieces of equipment sustained significant damage and the cost of the total damage could exceed $1 million.

The Agriculture Department's lab sustained less damage, but it suspended routine sampling analysis.

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