HazMat Leak in Boston

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 @ 02:09 PM gHale

A pressure relief valve on a tank filled with liquid nitrogen let go and caused a hazardous materials situation Monday morning in the Longwood section of Boston, officials said.

Firefighters responded to the scene of a hazardous materials situation when liquid nitrogen leaked outside of a building at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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The hazardous leak forced hundreds of people to evacuate as fire crews shut down three buildings.

“The main danger from it is asphyxiation. In other words, that gas could displace the oxygen in the air. Then, you know, we can’t breathe if we don’t have oxygen,” said Boston Fire Department Dep. Chief Bernard Tully.

Fire officials said it started when two 3,000-pound tanks ended up filled with liquid nitrogen in the morning. For some reason, the pressure relief valve on one let go. The gas is not flammable.

Officials said they did worry about oxygen levels inside the buildings.

“You could see it coming up there. The thing that impressed me was the amount of fire department response,” said a professor who arrived to teach a class, but ended up going out for breakfast with his students instead.

The condensation cloud of nitrogen blanketed the ground as dozens of workers crammed into the congested Longwood area.

By mid-morning, the buildings reopened and there were no injuries in the incident.

There will be an investigation into the incident.

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