The Laramie Community Recreation Center was evacuated Tuesday morning after a chemical spill.
Assistant City Manager Todd Feezer said chlorine was spilled after a staff member accidentally mixed a small amount of acid into the chlorine tanks during a chemical transfer, causing an “unfortunate combination of chemicals.” The evacuation was to allow for the spill to be cleaned and the chlorine fumes to dissipate.
“We’re very grateful that we didn’t have any dangerous exposure to staff or participants or residents of this community,” Feezer said.
Chlorine gas can be dangerous if inhaled. The Laramie Fire Department responded to the scene as both LFD and as a hazmat team through Wyoming Regional Emergency Response Team No. 3. The responders used air quality monitors to test the amount of the toxic chlorine gas still in the Recreation Center’s air.
“It’s just going to take some time to ensure the air quality in the building is good, and we won’t leave until we are 100 percent satisfied,” said Laramie Fire Department Company Officer Todd Hixon, who responded to the scene.
Hixon said “most important thing” was to evacuate everyone safely and to make sure the building is empty.
“We go on our self-contained breathing apparatus that ensures our safety as far as inhaling any toxic gases or anything like that, and from there just try to assess the problem, see how we can mitigate it to do it safely,” Hixon said.
The city has protocol detailing what steps to take in situations like this one, Feezer said. He added he plans to have the city’s Incident Response Team look into the incident to determine if there can be any improvements to the protocol in place.
The Recreation Center was closed for the remainder of Tuesday due to the spill. According to the Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page, any patrons who left belongings in the building due to the evacuation can pick them up on Wednesday.