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Steve Griffin, KSL

University of Utah chemistry building evacuated due to dangerous spill

By Gretel Kauffman, KSL | Updated - Jun 18th, 2019 @ 9:32pm | Posted - Jun 18th, 2019 @ 8:47pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — A University of Utah building was evacuated Tuesday night after an explosive substance spilled inside.

The Salt Lake City Fire Department was called to investigate a small spill in a laboratory shortly after 6 p.m., division chief Ryan Mellor said.

A university spokesman said he did not know exactly how many people were evacuated from the Henry Eyring Building, which houses the chemistry department. One person was taken to the hospital as a precaution, according to Mellor.

As of 9 p.m., a hazmat team was inside the building making sure the situation was stable. The team expected to be there for several more hours.

The spill was isolated to the lab and no other parts of the building appeared to be affected, Mellor said.

"These people work with these materials all the time and they were smart enough to call early," he said.

Because the substance is reactive to water, the hazmat team had to make sure there was no water around the spill.

The incident comes almost exactly one month after the release of a Utah legislative audit focusing on occupational hazards in University of Utah academic labs. The Office of the Legislative Auditor General said it found evidence of a "broken system" that puts lab workers at risk.

The university spokesman did not say how the substance had spilled.

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Gretel Kauffman

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