St. Joe's building evacuated after HAZMAT spill

July 9, 2009 10:48:30 AM PDT
The science center at St. Joseph's University has been evacuated because of a hazardous chemical spill. The Philadelphia fire department and HAZMAT crews were called to the center in the 5700 block of City Avenue in the Wynnefield section of the city around 12:26 p.m. Thursday.

Fire Chief Daniel Williams says the substance that spilled was benzene.

He says it can be toxic when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It can also burn the skin and eyes.

A University spokeswoman said a female chemical storage officer was bar-coding chemicals when she accidentally spilled the benzene in a room on the 4th floor of the Science building.

Officials are now cleaning all floors of the building. The contaminant has been contained to one room. The building will be closed and evaluated for the rest of the day.

The female chemical storage officer will be taken to Lankenau Hospital for evaluation. She is in good condition.

Williams said about 30 to 40 people were evacuated but remain on campus.

There is a 150 foot restriction around the building in all directions.

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