NAIT students and staff faced some unfamiliar excitement last week after cleanup teams were brought to campus Friday morning in response to a reported chemical leak.
G-Wing on Main Campus was evacuated due to a reported leak in basement storage facilities utilized by the Chemical Technology program. The wing was shut down for upwards of three hours after 8:15 a.m. while crews cleared the area. Additional sections of campus, including E-Wing and F-Wing were evacuated briefly as a safety precaution.
“It was an abundance of caution that caused us to evacuate the building but at no time was anybody at risk,” explained Craig Skelton, Inspector for NAIT Protective Services.
The waste management company contracted with the Chemical Technology program is reported to have cleared the area before it was reopened and normal activities resumed.
Although the exact nature of the leak is not being released, the G-Wing basement facilities include storage that the Chemical Technology program uses for waste materials. The leak originated from the waste storage area.
“The chemistry program stores waste materials in that room, in the basement of G. This was a container of mixed waste used in the Chemical Technology program,” explained Skelton.
No information on what types of mixed waste are being stored in these facilities was released.
Most areas of main campus were left unaffected by the incident, although programs located in the F, H, J, and E-wings faced some class interruptions.
“Some classroom activities were impacted but that was kept to a minimum,” explained Skelton. “Staff acted quickly and responsibly to this situation and it was resolved within a couple of hours.”
Preparations for Day 2 of the ACAC Men’s Volleyball Championships being hosted by NAIT were delayed by the evacuation of E-Wing but no significant delays were reported in the game schedule. Although NAITSA offices were also briefly affected by the E-Wing closure, support was expressed for the precaution taken.
“We’re very glad that no one was injured and we are glad to see that there was a very quick response time,” said Allannah Wrobel, NAITSA VP External.
The evacuation order did create some concern, both on campus and online, although social media reactions were limited.
Stefan Opryshko (@opryshko_stefan) posted a reaction, tweeting “Chemical spill at @NAIT! buildings evacuated and 1st responders on site, but it doesn’t seem serious. #naitalert”
The greatest challenge of the morning evacuation was the location itself. “The biggest challenge is G-Wing is the major hallway to and from the LRT,” explained Skelton.
The G-Wing connects the X-Wing to the rest of campus, which is one of the primary entrances for students and staff who take the Metro LRT line to and from campus every day. Those students arriving were required to find alternate routes to get to classes elsewhere on campus.
Nicolas Brown, Issues Editor