Volume 92, Issue 12

Thursday, September 24, 1998

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Chemical spill no cause for concern

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

Some weird science took place in Western's chemistry building Tuesday which required the building evacuated and the London Fire Department to be on hand.

Fire alarms sounded shortly after 3 p.m. when a chemical container in one of the main floor labs broke, releasing the chemical and its reddish-brown fumes into the air.

"A chemical dumped over in a storage cabinet which caused a chemical reaction and fumes that were a safety concern," said inspector Bob Earle of the University Police Department.

The corridor where the spill took place was closed off between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., Earle added. "It had the potential to be dangerous depending on how [the chemical] could react with other chemicals," he said.

Peter Roberts, Western's chief fire prevention officer and incident commander, said he believed the chemical was corrosive as it damaged both the cabinet and some of the floor tiles. "I believe they'll be replaced – the damage was less than $2,000," he said.

The building took approximately four minutes to evacuate and no one was hurt, Roberts added. After an assessment, Western's occupational health and safety decided the problem could be handled internally and the London Fire Department left.

"Air sampling was done before re-entry, there were no contaminants," Roberts said.

Campus emergency planning coordinator Dave Colvin said the situation was responded to very effectively. He explained the university is constantly trying to adjust and improve its response time.

"The university was quickly back to business as usual," he said.

Colvin added although the incident is being looked into, this is not a criminal situation.

Earle said he suspects a mistake was made, but pointing fingers is not necessary. "We'd like to know the cause to prevent it from happening again – finding fault isn't a necessary part," he said.

To Contact The News Department: gazette.news@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998