Chemical spill temporarily closes research facility on campus

The Science and Engineering Research Facility building closed because of a chemical spill Tuesday when boron tricholoride, a colorless gas, leaked out on the first floor.

UT Police emailed a notice to students alerting them of the spill at 4:44 p.m., indicating the building had been evacuated and closed following standard protocol for a chemical spill.

“Students were present, but no one was hurt,” said Whitney Heins, media and internal relations coordinator for the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Fifty people were evacuated from the building and four students were in close proximity to the incident. The research team was transferring the compressed gas from a 20-pound heavy-walled metal cylinder into a one and a half diameter glass cylinder.

“When the team heated the gas, the glass cyclinder shattered and leaked the chemical,” said D.J. Corcoran, captain of the Knoxville Fire Department.

Because boron tricholoride poses respiratory threats, the four students near the accident were taken to UT hospital but later released.

KFD was called in to do an air quality check as a safety precaution. Fire responders wore specialized suits that encapsulated them with a self-contained breathing apparatus. There was no threat of exposure to responders.

At 5:48 p.m. the building had a clear reading and classes resumed as scheduled.

 

Edited by Jennifer Brake

About Nichole Stevens

Nichole Stevens is a Senior and Journalism major at the University of Tennessee. She is from Washington state and likes to kayak and spoil her cat.

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