Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

Around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20, 2006, an e-mail was sent to Lt. John Brill of the West Chester University Public Safety Department informing him that the element bromine was accidentally spilled on the third floor of the Schmucker Science South building. The element, bromine, was being transferred on a rolling cart by a lab technician when, after stepping off of an elevator, the container containing the bromine in liquid form cracked, leaking a small amount of the 100 milliliter contents onto the floor. WCU’s Public Relations Department confirmed that none of the bromine entered the elevator shaft.

A member of the chemisty department, who asked not to be identified, said he covered the container with a small bowl to slow the spread of the toxic vapors.

Schmucker Science North, South and the Link were immediately evacuated, as was the Boucher Science building.

At 1:50 p.m., the three fire companies that form the West Chester Fire Department (Fame, Good Will and First) were dispatched to the Schmucker Science South building. Also dispatched to the scene at 1:50 p.m. were the Good Fellowship Ambulance Co., the WCU Police Dept. and West Chester Borough Police.

Upon investigation of the scene both inside and outside the building, the fire department dispatched the Chester County Hazardous Material Team at 2:11 p.m.

The fire department taped off Rosedale Avenue between Church and New Streets as well as the areas immediately surrounding the affected science buildings.

The university first let employees know of the incident at 3:08 p.m. in an e-mail sent to every employee by the Senior Associate to President Adler, Gail Haney. At 3:41 p.m., Ms. Haney sent another e-mail to all employees of the university that indicated that the Boucher Building would reopen at 4 p.m. but that the North and South Schmucker Science buildings would remain closed until the haz-mat teams could further assess the situation.

“The evactuation went smoothly and was well handled by students, faculty and Public Safety. There was, however, never a chance for a disaster (fire, explosion, etc.),” said the professor on the condition of anonymity.

Both Schmucker Science buildings were reopened around 5 p.m. and the classes affected by the spill were rescheduled for later dates.

Cynthia Bednar, Interim Director of Public Relations told The Quad that two police officers and one faculty member were hospitalized last Monday after ingesting some slight fumes. The officers and faculty member had some slight respiratory irritation but were treated and released.

Bromine, which is a member of the halogen group, is a reddish-brown liquid at room temperature. It is a hazardous material with a choking, irritating odor that targets the respiratory system, central nervous system, eyes and skin. According to, “When spilled on the skin it produces painful sores. It is a serious health hazard, and maximum safety precautions should be taken when handling it.”

The two photos below were taken shortly after the W.C.F.D. arrived on the scene. Fire engines and ambulances spanned Rosedale Ave.

The Quad was the first on the scene on Monday, Feb. 20, 2006 and we’re honored to be West Chester University’s first source to turn to for breaking news on campus.

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