Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Primate Center Chemical Leak Prompts Haz Mat Response

Here is an example of how Automatic Aid works with fire departments. Even though the following incident occured in the City of Hillsboro, the closest responder and the specialty teams needed were crews from our neighboring agency, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. While the majority of the resources were from TVF&R, our Battalion Chief and an HFD engine company were there to support and provide any additional Hillsboro resources needed.

News Release
A chlorine gas leak prompted the evacuation of an Oregon National Primate Center building in Hillsboro Wednesday morning along with a response from firefighters and a Hazardous Materials Team. The incident began shortly before nine when Primate Center employees reported a chemical leak. The closest emergency responders, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue’s (TVF&R) Engine 64 from their Somerset Station, arrived minutes later. They requested additional resources, including an engine from Hillsboro Fire Department and the regional hazardous materials response team from TVF&R.

TVF&R firefighters entered the building known as the Animal Services ABSL3 building, located on the south side of the campus and found two four-foot tall chlorine cylinders strapped to a cart. They shut off the flow of chlorine and began monitoring the air quality inside the building. The Hazardous Materials Team later removed the two tanks from the building and continued to monitor the air quality inside the building’s hallways.

Primate Center Health and Safety workers say they were preparing to disinfect a laboratory area with chlorine when one worker said she heard an unusual pop from the chlorine tank’s regulator as she opened the tank’s valve. She began smelling chlorine gas. She quickly activated the building’s safety system, evacuated fellow workers and sheltered the primates in place. The safety systems include a positive air flow ventilation system that prevented the leaked chlorine gas in the hallway from entering any of the rooms occupied by the primates. No one was injured. Firefighters began winding up their operation and turning the scene back over to Primate Center employees shortly before noon.

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