Niagara Gazette

February 12, 2013

Gaskill back to normal after chlorine gas incident

by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Life at Gaskill Preparatory School returned to normal for students and staff one day after a chlorine cloud forced students to evacuate suddenly.

Principal Robert Bradley said all three individuals taken to the hospital Monday – two maintenance workers and a teacher – reported back to work Tuesday with the building given an all-clear from firefighters.

"A lot of (the hospitalizations) was just precautionary," Bradley said. "The two workers were in the basement and the teacher might have just had a reaction. But everyone's OK and back (Tuesday)."

Students, meanwhile, were able to smell an odor in the school following the Monday mishap, which occurred following a reported accidental mixture of one gallon of acid being mixed with 20 gallons of liquid chlorine in the school's basement.

The chemicals, mixed in a 50-gallon drum, formed a chlorine gas cloud, forcing officials to evacuate the students and dismiss them from their evacuation sites, Hyde Park Elementary and the old 24th Street School.

Bradley said the students and staff both deserve accolades for the way they responded and maintained order throughout the emergency protocols Monday.

"The students were told they had to be evacuated," he said. "At that particular time, they could smell that there was an odor in the building. It was just a matter of making sure they were safely evacuated. And they deserve high marks. The staff and students both did what they had to do, getting to our emergency evacuation sites quickly and safely."

Bradley added the school received about 40 to 50 calls from concerned parents prior to school reopening Tuesday, checking to see if the building was safe, which they were reassured firefighters cleared the building for occupation.

As for a possible investigation into how the chemicals were improperly mixed, there was no comment from school district administrators. Spokesperson Judie Glaser said the district does not comment on personnel.

"We're certainly glad no one was hurt and happy for the assistance from the police and firefighters," Glaser said. "No one wants to see this type of potentially dangerous situation. But everything worked out and everybody's fine."