Chemical spill clears Redmond HS science lab

Happened in storage closet; 2 teachers evaluated

REDMOND, Ore. - (Update-correction: Fire Department corrects chemical, more details)

A chemical spill in a storage closet at Redmond High School on Friday prompted evacuation and sealing of the classroom and sent two teachers to a hospital for evaluation, officials said

Firefighters responded shortly before noon to the science lab at the school at 675 SW Rimrock Way, Battalion Chief Jeff Puller said.

They found potassium hydroxide had spilled in a storage closet, to the classroom was evacuated and sealed. Firefighters then contained the chemical in a protective container until it could be removed by a hazardous materials clean-up response company, Puller said.

While two teachers went to the hospital by private vehicle for evaluation, no students or firefighters were injured, the battalion chief said.

Fire Marshal Traci Cooper explained that they acted cautiously because the chemical’s original container leaked and they wanted to be sure it hadn’t come in contact with other chemicals, worsening the issue.

Potassium hydroxide, commonly called caustic potash, is a colorless solid used in many industrial and niche applications that exploit its corrosive nature and reactivity toward acids.

Puller said there was concern that the breached material could have mixed with sodium hydroxide from another container in the closet.

"The school did a great job," he said. "They isolated and sealed it until we got there." Fire crews were able to contain and mitigate the substance, after which SMAF Environmental of Prineville was called in to pick the material up and dispose of it.

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