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Hazmat crews quell sulfuric acid mishap at Weber State University

Published November 27, 2012 9:47 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A potentially hazardous incident occurred at Weber State University on Tuesday morning when a contractor servicing the swimming pool accidentally mixed chlorine with sulfuric acid.

No one was injured and no buildings were evacuated as a result of the 11 a.m. mishap, which closed Skyline Drive for about 1½ hours, according to Ogden Fire Department Deputy Chief Eric Bauman.

An outside contractor was servicing the pool at the Swenson Gym and had added chlorine to the pool chlorination system, which is a normal process, Bauman reported.

Afterward, about one gallon of the chlorine was left over and was added to a 55-gallon drum, which turned out to contain about 30 gallons of sulfuric acid. The acid is also normally added to the pool, though the chemicals were not supposed to mix in the drum, Bauman said.

As gas began to escape from the drum, it was placed in a pickup truck and driven to another location on campus, where a 300-foot perimeter was established around the vehicle. Emergency responders were concerned that the drum could explode if it reached too high a temperature, Bauman said.

A representative from the chemical company was on scene as crews took internal temperatures of the product, conducted air monitoring and separated the chlorine from the acid. The first temperature reading came back at 100 degrees, and the second at 95, showing the reaction was cooling down, Bauman said. By 12:30 p.m., the danger had passed.

"Everything went very well," he added.

Present at the scene were a total of 21 personnel from the Weber State Police Department, the Ogden City Police Department and the Weber County Hazardous Materials Task Force, which is made up of hazmat technicians from Ogden City Fire Department, Weber Fire District, and Northview Fire Department.

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