This past Friday, the University of California San Diego needed to be evacuated following an accident that happened in one of their science labs. Authorities were notified at 5:52 pm that assistance was needed after someone in the lab had mistakenly mixed ethanol with silver nitrate, according to Lee Swanson, spokesman for the department.
The resulting mixture was believed by UCSD staff to be potentially explosive. When the mixture occurred, the building was only being used by a small amount of people. Nonetheless, UCSD safety officials, the bomb squad and San Diego fire and hazardous materials department all responded to the call. Upon arriving, authorities evacuated the building while the substance in question was being safely addressed.
It wasn’t until about 7:40 pm that responders were able to come to some conclusion about the mixture. The San Diego bomb squad and hazmat crew took readings before determining that the concoction—which was about a pint in total—was not actually dangerous. FBI experts and consultants agreed that the mixture was flammable, but far from actually being explosive.
As soon as this was established, the liquid was placed into an absorbent container and finally taken off campus. The hazmat team handled disposal.
While certainly a rare circumstance, there are a number of important takeaways with a story like this. First, it’s important that you always practice sound safety protocols when working with dangerous chemicals. In the event of an accident like this one, you should always contact the relevant authorities immediately. However, don’t forget about the importance of legal protection too. Had this story had a less happy ending, the person deemed responsible could be in a lot of trouble. So although it makes sense to ensure everyone is safe, you need to next look after your own wellbeing by contacting an attorney.