MARION — A chemical spill at an independent school in Marion saw students and staff evacuated for nearly three hours this morning as hazmat crews cleaned up.

Marion Fire Chief Brian Jackvony said that crews were called out to Tabor Academy at around 9:30 this morning for reports of a chemical smell that turned out to be ammonia.

School staff had already pulled alarms and evacuated students and employees from the large Stroud Academic Center on Spring Street when emergency services arrived to assess the scene.

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Jackvony said staff directed two firefighters to a chemical processing room on the first floor between two chemistry labs, where they had smelled ammonia.

The firefighters immediately got readings on their meters indicating the presence of the chemical, which is an irritant and a corrosive, the fire chief said.

 

Everyone was kept out of the building while crews initiated a Tier 1 (low-level) hazmat response.

 

"It's basically an assessment team with the capabilities to neutralize the ammonia," Jackvony said. "[It was a] small crew of maybe a half dozen people."

Emergency responders eventually found the source of the spill, which the fire chief said was less than one gallon of ammonia.

 

Hazmat crews put down neutralizing powder and cleared up the spill to allow students back into the building.

However, the chemistry labs will remain closed until tomorrow so that a contractor can completely clear up any remnants of the spill.

All told, Jackvony said, the building was evacuated for around two and a half hours, with everyone back in the building by around 12:30.

 

He noted that one female teacher was assessed on-site for throat irritation, but no other injuries were reported during the incident.

 

Although a small spill of ammonia isn't extremely dangerous, it all depends on the concentration of chemicals and the size of the spill, Jackvony said.

"In an enclosed building we certainly use caution," he stated.

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