Mountain View Voice

News - October 8, 2010

NASA's new potty problem — vandals

by Daniel DeBolt

NASA has figured out how to make a toilet that astronauts can use in outer space, but down here on earth is another, messier story.

The problem with a particular pair of bathrooms at NASA Ames Research Center has become so bad that Deputy Center Director Deb Feng sent an e-mail Friday to all 2,500 or so NASA employees in Mountain View about the "disturbing" vandalism, asking employees to call if they witness anything.

"In Building 269, massive amounts of paper towels and toilet paper have purposely been placed in men's toilets causing flooding in the hallway and creating an unsafe condition," Feng's e-mail said.

The building is behind the NASA security gate, which means the culprit is likely a NASA employee or a student intern.

More bathroom vandalism is happening in building 244, Feng said, where both the men's and women's bathrooms were defaced with "objectionable graffiti."

The vandalism is costing NASA Ames thousands of dollars to clean up and "disrupts our work environment," Feng writes. "We take these incidents very seriously and will take whatever lawful action is necessary to alleviate this problem," her e-mail warns.

Those "necessary actions" were questioned in an e-mail by an anonymous employee of NASA Ames who is concerned about two video cameras that have been pointed at the doors to the men's bathrooms on the first and second floors of building 269, apparently to help identify suspects.

"Is it legal?" the employee asked. "Is this also done at local businesses, such as Google and Hewlett Packard?"

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