EPA building evacuated after chlorine gas leak

Apr. 24, 2013 @ 07:24 PM

A chlorine gas leak on Wednesday prompted an evacuation of employees and contractors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s campus at Research Triangle Park.

The leak occurred during decontamination research, the agency reported.

Thirty-one contractors and five federal employees were evacuated from a building at about 11:30 a.m., according to an e-mail from the agency. All employees were accounted for, and no one was hurt.

Personnel were allowed back inside at about 3 p.m. after assurances were made that the leak was contained and the laboratory was safe, according to the statement.

The leak was “relatively small,” officials said, and was contained to one building and its immediate surrounding area.

It happened during decontamination research as part of the agency’s homeland security research efforts.

The building where the leak occurred is one of several on the EPA’s campus here. It was designed for decontamination research aimed at helping the United States respond to “emergency situations involving hazardous chemicals,” the statement said.

The EPA is doing research into the decontamination capabilities of chlorine dioxide on organisms, the statement said.

“The research is studying the best procedures and methods to use to contain, mitigate and decontaminate buildings and outdoor areas following a homeland security incident involving hazardous materials,” said Monica Linnenbrink, an EPA spokeswoman, in an email.

The agency’s campus in the Research Triangle Park has more than 2,000 employees and contractors. It is the agency’s largest outside of Washington, D.C., Linnenbrink said in an email.

The agency has been doing homeland security research at the RTP facility since 2002, she said.

The EPA became involved in security research after the terror attacks involving planes and anthrax in 2001, according to the agency’s website.