September 13, 2008

Chemical Alert at Halls of Residence

STUDENTS were evacuated after a toxic chemical spill in city centre halls of residence.

Fire crews wearing protective masks and clothing were called to Lovaine Hall, Northumberland Road, Newcastle, at 9.30pm on Thursday after five litres of chlorine dioxide leaked in a ground-floor room.

The building, occupied by about 100 Northumbria University students, was temporarily evacuated following the spillage and a 30- metre exclusion zone was placed around the area.

Tyne and Wear Fire Colby Court crew manager Scott Edwards said: "We had to put full chemical procedures in place, which meant putting firefighters in breathing apparatus and personal protective clothing and cordoning off the area.

"The chemical had seeped into the carpet, so it had to be cut away and put in sealed containers.

"It was quite risky for the firefighters.

Chlorine dioxide is an irritant, it's corrosive, explosive, oxidising and toxic."

It took fire crews until about 1am to mop up the spillage and dispose of it safely. The sealed containers will now be taken away by a specialist company.

A Northumbria University spokeswoman said Lovaine Hall was evacuated as a precaution and all of the students returned to the building within a matter of hours.

(c) 2008 The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.