Chloroform spill forces evacuation of building at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York
Monday, August 11, 2008
Buffalo, New York —The Buffalo Fire Department and Police were called to a hazmat situation at Canisius College on Main Street after security reported that a one gallon glass container containing chloroform broke, spilling about a pint onto the floor of the college’s science building.
According to communications by firefighters, who arrived at around 8:20 a.m. (eastern time), the glass container spilled on the third floor in room 318. As a precaution the building was evacuated and East Delevan road between Main Street and Jefferson Avenues was closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic while crews worked to clean up the spill.
At about 9:15 hazmat crews entered the room and began to clean up the chemical “using kitty litter” and fans to air out the room. They then sealed the material in a five gallon container. At 9:23 a.m. firefighters stated that they no longer detected the chemical in the air and began to pack up their gear.
Officials for the college assessed the situation and decided to keep the building closed for the day. “At 8:22am this morning the Public Safety Department and Buffalo Fire Department responded to a report of a chemical spill on the third floor of the Health Science Center. As the building is cleaned, the Health Science Building will remain closed today and reopen tomorrow morning,” a college official said to Wikinews, adding they could not confirm the firefighter reports.
Firefighters believe the container containing the chemical was knocked over while someone working with maintenance was cleaning the floors.
There are no reports of injuries, but WKBW reports that the maintenance worker was taken to Sister’s of Saint Mercy’s hospital not far from the college for observation.
Chloroform is a common solvent used in chemistry laboratories. Minimal exposure can cause dizziness, headaches and fainting while prolonged exposure can cause liver and kidney damage. It is considered a hazardous material and environmentally unsafe. Banned as a consumer product since 1976 in the U.S., it was previously used in toothpaste, cough medicines and pharmaceuticals.