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Research at UCT’s Geological Sciences Department might be contaminated

A burning vehicle next to the department released fumes that could have contaminated laboratory tests.

Burnt remains of research bakkie of the Plant Conservation Unit at UCT. Picture: Twitter: @UCTLawStudents

CAPE TOWN - Research at University of Cape Town (UCT)'s Geological Sciences Department might be contaminated as a result of fumes from a burning truck.

Last month a burning vehicle next to the department released fumes that could have contaminated laboratory tests.

UCT says it cannot confirm whether the vehicle's torched was a result of Fees Must Fall protests on campus.

Senior research officer Dr Petrus Le Roux says fumes from a burning vehicle parked next to the laboratory entered the ventilation system.

The event may have negatively affected research that is unique in Africa. It involves the analysis of isotopes.

Le Roux is also concerned about the perception of scientific analysis at the facility.

“We’ve worked very hard over the last five to six years to making this a world-class facility. Reputation is very important and it’s very difficult to gain a good reputation, and that’s what we’ve managed to do.

“If people starts getting doubts about our facility then they’ll go somewhere else and that’s a reputational risk which we’re aware off and very worried about.”

Officials expect contamination test results to be available within three weeks.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)