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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, faced a severe setback as a janitor in one of its laboratories reportedly switched off a storage freezer.

The freezer held cell cultures, samples, and other elements stored at -112 degrees Fahrenheit, but they were all ruined when the temperature suddenly rose to -25.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

A New York Post report states that a US private research institute has initiated a lawsuit against a cleaner who disrupted scientific progress by cutting power to a super-cold freezer.

The cleaner’s actions were driven by annoyance at a persistent beeping sound, leading them to flip a switch at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute lab in Troy, New York.

This act destroyed valuable research accumulated over several decades, amounting to damages estimated at no less than $1 million, as reported by the Post.

In response, the research institute has directed the lawsuit toward the third-party cleaning service, the provider of the janitor responsible for the incident.

“People’s behavior and negligence caused all this. Unfortunately, they wiped out 25 years of research,” Michael Ginsberg, the institute’s attorney, was quoted in the outlet as saying.

The freezer contained cell cultures, samples, and other elements stored at -112 degrees Fahrenheit.

After the cleaner turned off the switch, the temperature rose to -25.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the institute’s lawsuit, the incident occurred in September 2020.

In the report, representatives from RPI stated that there is a sign on the freezer door that explains the source of the alarm and provides instructions on how to silence it.

RPI staff mentioned in the report that the worker mistakenly believed they were turning the switch on instead of shutting down the freezer.

According to RPI’s attorney, reproducing the work that the incident destroyed will reportedly cost $1 million.

The research allegedly focused on photosynthesis and had potential implications for developing solar panels.

Per the Post report, Derek Foster, the president of the Albany-based cleaning service, has not commented on the matter.

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