An investigation into last night’s chemical spill in Hand College has yet to conclusively reveal what the irritant was, or whether the incident was accidental or malicious. Preliminary tests done on the substance were negative, but according to university spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow, the symptoms exhibited by victims and a lack of chemicals found at the scene suggest it was an irritant like pepper spray or mace.
Twenty people were treated at the scene in Tabler Quad, including one fire marshal who was exposed to the irritant, said Sheprow. Four students were also transferred to the Stony Brook University Medical Center as a precaution, and have since been discharged. There were no serious injuries reported.
By the time first responders were on the scene at around 7:15pm, an estimated 75 to 100 students were in the building, and were evacuated immediately. A further 200 students were kept out of the building for three hours, and residents were not permitted to return to their rooms until after 10:00pm.
SBVAC was among the first to respond to calls, but they were not alone by the end of the night. Brookhaven Town and Suffolk County Hazmat teams were called to the scene as well, along with fire departments from Stony Brook and Setauket and the Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services.
University officials were also quick to commend the actions of student safety personnel, including the Resident Safety Program and Hand College RA’s.
Residents in Hand College were jarred Sunday night by the release of a chemical irritant on the third floor of the building in Tabler Quad.
Shortly before 7pm, residents began to report feeling sick in Hand College, and began evacuating the building. Early rumors suggested that the cause was pepper spray that someone tried to microwave, but the latest reports suggest that the irritant was perhaps tear gas. Several residents were seen throwing up, according to Hand College resident Mark Ihde, who was on the balcony of his room when the first rumors came in.
“Hazmat was on the scene, and told people they can’t go back in,” he said. “Residents who were exposed were quarantined off behind yellow police tape.”
If reports of tear gas are accurate–police have not yet confirmed the cause of the evacuation–the immediate question would become where this student acquired tear gas. It can be manufactured using simple every day products, but there are no answers at this time as to whether the chemical was in the process of being created, or whether it was made elsewhere and simply released, perhaps accidentally, on campus.
As of 10:00pm, residents in Hand were being allowed to return to their rooms after Hazmat gave the all-clear, though Ihde said that third floor residents were still being kept out until the exact details become clear.
Think Magazine will be updating this story as more information becomes available.
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