Chemical spill temporarily shuts down Lafferre Hall

The cause of the spill has still not been determined.
Fire trucks are parked outside Thomas and Nell Lafferre Hall after a chemical spill Aug.17. The cause of the spill is unknown.

MU Environmental Health and Safety personnel are still determining the cause of a chemical spill, which occurred Wednesday night in a laboratory in Thomas and Nell Lafferre Hall.

"It was a rupture of a container," Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said. "When people think of an explosion, they think of what they see on television. This was a rupture."

The incident shut down Sixth Street temporarily and caused the evacuation of fewer than 15 people from Thomas and Nell Lafferre Hall between 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. No one was injured.

"We were very fortunate that there were no injuries," MU spokesman Christian Basi said. "Everyone was evacuated and safe."

The incident occurred in room C-2266 and was reported by two students working in a nearby laboratory. The Columbia Fire Department responded with the assistance of MU Police Department and the MU Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

"There was reported that a gallon-sized glass container stored in a cabinet had ruptured and that some of the material had spilled onto the floor of the lab," Sapp said. "When we got there, we went in with protective clothing and respirators and identified that is exactly what had taken place."

MU officials have identified some of the chemicals involved in the spill, including: acetone, methanol and isopropyl alcohol, common cleaning solvents, potassium hydroxide, aluminum and copper sulfate, according to an MU News Bureau release. The cause of the spill is still undetermined.

"The EHS are still looking into why it happened," Basi said. "When we have an incident in a laboratory with a spill, which is very rare, we will go back and try and determine how it happened. The event may have happened due to something we could have prevented. That is part of our investigation. It could have been something no one could prevent."

After cleaning, the EHS declared the room safe and released it back to the researcher this morning.

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