Cause of chemical spill on University of Missouri campus still under investigation

Thursday, August 18, 2011 | 11:44 a.m. CDT; updated 6:03 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 18, 2011

COLUMBIA — A laboratory in Lafferre Hall at MU where a glass container of hazardous materials ruptured around 8 p.m. Wednesday was cleaned, inspected and released to the lab's researcher Thursday morning, MU spokesperson, Christian Basi, said.

The situation was turned over to the MU Environmental Health and Safety Department.

Wearing protective clothing and respirators, the Health and Safety Department investigators identified several chemicals involved in the spill, which amounted to about one-half gallon of materials. Several common cleaning compounds (methanol, acetone and isopropyl alcohol) were found, in addition to potassium hydroxide, aluminum and copper sulfate, Basi said. Mixtures of some acids were also present, but the Health and Safety Department is still working to identify them.

"This is very, very rare," Basi said. The Health and Safety Department is now investigating the cause of the spill, which Basi said is still unclear.

No injuries were reported as a result of the spill, which was discovered and reported by Dan Howard, a research assistant in the building at the time.

Firefighters donned protective clothing and air packs in order to enter the laboratory Wednesday night. They examined the extent of the spill and tested the oxygen level in the room, according to a news release from the Columbia Fire Department.

"The important thing," Basi said, "is that the response of the individual who found the spill and the response of the team that responded to the call, including the fire department, MU Police Department and the Environmental Health and Safety Department, were excellent."

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Chris Cady August 19, 2011 | 10:08 a.m.

How times have changed. We used to spill stuff all the time in the lab, and we'd just clean it up and move on. :-]

I do hope if it was vandalism that they can find the culprits.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.