Yuma High was partly evacuated Thursday after a chemical spill in the research building. Five people including one student were in the room when the chemical spill happened.
A chemistry teacher and staff were checking inventory of the schools chemicals when one of the vials containing a form of mercury fell and broke on the floor. Assistant principal for Yuma High Frank Nunez says, “a very small amount fell on the floor. These chemicals are stored in glass at times which was broken on impact.”
The building was evacuated and items that the chemical touched were left in the building. “A little bit fell on the floor on some shoes. Everything was removed and left there and the fire department was called and we enacted our emergency response plan,” says Nunez. The Yuma Fire Department responded to the scene with a special response vehicle to assess the situation. Mike Erfert with the fire department says, “Personnel that had been trained in dealing with hazardous chemicals entered and checked out what the chemical was comprised of and took the appropriate action.”
Erfert says YFD worked to stop the spread of the chemical fumes from getting to other buildings by shutting of the air conditioning to the building.
Nunez says they were not sure what the side effects of the chemical were but treated the situation with extreme caution. “Essentially it’s a chemical with unknown side effects at the time by the people who were around it so regardless we are going to act as if it were the most volatile substance there even though really it’s not. The doctors cleared both the people that were involved rather immediately.”
No one was harmed in the spill and the five people were evaluated and cleared by the fire department.“We take pride in the fact that emergency response plan was activated and functioned as it should,” says Nunez.
The other buildings on campus were not affected by the spill and classes remained in session. The research building where the spill happened will remain evacuated until further notice.