Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2009 16:38:45 -0400
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Subject: Baylor University evacuates science building after cyanide spill 0/14/10142009wacSpill.html


Baylor University evacuates science building after cyanide spill

By Anita Pere Tribune-Herald staff writer
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Several hundred people were evacuated from Baylor University=92s science building at about 3 p.m. Tuesday after a vial of cyanide cracked and splashed a small amount of the toxic chemical on a student=92s lab coat.

The chemistry graduate student, a female whose name wasn=92t released, was not injured. She was checked by paramedics at the scene, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said.

The student was handling a shipping container in a chemistry lab when a vial of isobutyl cyanide slipped out of the container and cracked when it fell on a bench, Fogleman said. Less than a milliliter of the chemical escaped the vial. A professor was also in the lab at the time of the spill, but he wasn=92t injured.

Fogleman said the student went through all the proper procedures for a chemical emergency. She activated the alarm system, reported the spill and evacuated the area.

=93We train for accidents and emergencies throughout the year, and the training worked,=94 said Jill Scoggins, assistant vice president for media communications at Baylor.

A hazardous materials crew brought in sand to absorb the chemical. The tainted sand and the cyanide vial were placed in a fume cupboard, which ventilates and neutralizes the chemical, said Rob Barlow, acting assistant fire chief. Police blocked Bagby Avenue from University Parks Drive to Second Street for several hours so Waco fire and hazardous materials crews could access the building. Barlow said he had never previously dealt with a cyanide spill.

Evacuated students and faculty huddled under umbrellas in a steady downpour while they waited for the all-clear to re-enter the building.

Anthony Harris, a biology and pre-med student at Baylor, was studying in the science building when he heard an alarm saying there had been an emergency.

=93It kind of is shocking,=94 Harris said. =93It=92s weird to have your books out and then have to get out.=94

The building was reopened just before 6 p.m.

=== 75

Chemical spill clears BSB
Oct. 14, 2009

Student breaks vial of caustic substance

Jed Dean | Photo editor

Police respond to a chemical spill in the Baylor Sciences Building Tuesday afternoon. The building was closed around 3:00 and was re-opened just before 6 p.m.

By Liz Foreman

The Baylor Sciences Building was evacuated for more than two hours Tuesday after a hazardous chemical spill that occurred around 3 p.m. in a second-floor chemistry lab.

A female graduate student, whose name has not been released, was handling the contents of a shipping container in lab E253R, when the vial of tert-Butyl isocyanide hit a bench and cracked, spilling less than one milliliter onto the floor and her lab coat, said Lori Fogleman, director of media communications.

The Lariat initially reported on its Web site that the chemical spilled was Cyanide. However, the chemical was tert-Butyl isocyanide, said Dr. Bruce Dobson, a chemistry lecturer who was overseeing work in the lab.

Waco Fire Department Acting Assistant Chief Rob Barlow releases an official statement to the media following the spill of what was confirmed as tert-Butyl isocyanide.

tert-Butyl isocyanide is an odorous, highly flammable chemical that can be toxic by inhalation, according to the Material Safety Data Sheet provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Fogleman said the student was checked at the scene but not treated for any injuries. No one else was injured in the incident. Waco Fire Department and its Hazmat team were called to contain the chemical.

In addition to evacuating the building while the spill was cleaned, Bagby Avenue between University Parks and Second Street was closed.

The Hazmat team acted to contain the toxic chemical by using sand to absorb it, then transferring the contaminated sand into a container, which was put under a ventilated hood in the research lab to be neutralized, said Rob Barlow, Waco Fire Department acting assistant chief present at the scene.

Once the chemical was placed under the fume hood, the self-ventilated lab was sealed off for the night, said Jill Scoggins, assistant vice president for media communications.

The room has self-contained airflow that does not mix with air outside the room, she said.

The Baylor Sciences Building was re-opened to students, faculty and staff at roughly 5:45 p.m. Tuesday.

"Fortunately we had a researcher who followed procedure and stayed safe," Fogleman said.

After the spill occurred, Fogleman said, the student placed the vial into the fume hood -- a vacuum contraption that neutralizes the toxicity of fumes within it -- then activated an alarm and called the Baylor Police Department.

Chemistry Professor Dr. David Pennington said that shortly after the accident, the student involved went to his office to ensure that the Department of Risk Management had been notified.

"The student had on protective eyewear, gloves, long pants and closed shoes, Pennington said, "She was fully protected."

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