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Labs closed during clean-up of chemical spill

STANFORD -- Laboratories in the McCullough Building on the Stanford University campus were closed Wednesday, Sept. 2, while crews cleaned up a chemical spill from the previous evening.

John Holmes, acting director of Environmental Health and Safety, said one person was treated and released for a minor injury after being splashed in the eye while trying to contain the spill, which was reported about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.

About 200 gallons of a sodium hydroxide-water solution mixture spilled when an acid neutralization tank in the building overflowed. The tank is used to neutralize acids before disposal. Crews from Santa Clara County, campus hea lth and safety and the Palo Alto Fire Department responded.

No material was discharged into the sanitary sewer system or into storm drains, Holmes said.

The building houses the Center for Materials Research and the department of electrical engineering. Turgut Gur, technical director of the Center for Materials Research, said workers suspected a clogged pipe led to the overflow.

Research facilities in the building were ordered shut down until the plumbing problem that apparently started the spill was fixed; no labs are allowed to operate without fully functioning safety showers. Offices in the building remained open.

The spill did not pose a serious health or safety threat. A team from the IT Corporation was handling the cleanup.

"We don't anticipate any serious consequence other than [repair] cost," Holmes said.

Gur said it was too early to estimate when the building would again have running water.


lid spill


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