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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Chemical spill causes UF lab evacuation, road closure

A chemical spill in the UF Chemistry Lab Building next to Leigh Hall resulted in a building evacuation and road closure Thursday morning.

UF police, Gainesville Fire Rescue, Alachua County Fire Rescue and members of UF Environmental Health and Safety all responded to the call around 11 a.m., said Capt. Jeff Holcomb, spokesman for the UF Police Department.

About one liter composed of half silicon tetrachloride and half carbon tetrachloride was spilled in a second-floor lab after someone went to store the chemical and the container fell and broke, said Capt. Dan Smith of the Gainesville Fire Rescue's Hazardous Materials Team.

If a person makes contact with the volatile chemical, symptoms could include burning skin and respiratory problems, Smith said.

No one suffered any injuries, but the fire alarm was triggered and the building evacuated. Buckman Drive, from Union Road up to the Chemistry Lab Building, was closed for about two hours.

One person was escorted out of the building because he didn't hear the alarm, said Tim Hayes, deputy fire chief of the Gainesville Fire Rescue's Risk Reduction Bureau.

The safety features built on campus, such as sprinkler systems and hood systems, help in times of chemical spills, Hayes said.

Smith said the chemical evaporated and left the room quickly thanks to the hood system inside of the lab.

After exiting the building, the suited Hazmat team members were washed off as part of a decontamination process, unsuited and their vital signs were taken, Hayes said.

If any one of them showed symptoms, they would immediately be transferred to a medical facility by one of the rescue units that were on standby, he said.

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