Buildings Evacuated at JPL During Thursday Hazardous Material Incident

Published : Friday, September 7, 2018 | 5:01 AM

Officials at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena ordered employees out of buildings near a hazardous material storage area Thursday after a container of aluminum powder came into contact with water, a JPL spokesperson said.

Veronica McGregor, JPL News and Social Media Manager, said the unstable container was moved out of the storage area and isolated until it became stable to prevent damage or injury.

“It’s just a volatile combination,” McGregor said. “The incident resolved itself, as soon as the container was cooled down.”

Employees at buildings near the area where the aluminum power was being stored were evacuated to the JPL cafeteria while the JPL Fire Department was responding.

McGregor said the whole incident took about two and a half hours. No one was injured during the incident.

“There was no spill, there were no fumes or anything like that,” McGregor said. “It was all confined to one container, which was like the size of a large metal bucket.”

A tweet from the Los Angeles County Fire Department later Thursday said HazMat (hazardous material) teams assisted the JPL Fire Department in responding to the incident.

“UPDATE: #JPL FD and #LACoFD HazMat teams have made entry to a storage area and have mitigated the hazard. No damage to structures or injuries reported. LA County units going available shortly,” the tweet said.

An earlier LA County Fire Department message said the product (aluminum powder in a container) was being cooled and that no injuries have been reported. It is not known how the powder came in contact with water in the storage area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says aluminum powder “reacts with water and alcohols, and violently with oxidants , strong acids , strong bases , and chlorinated hydrocarbons causing fire and explosion hazard.”

The Confederation of the Aluminum Industry (GDA) in Dusseldorf, Germany says aluminium powder “should be stored dry and any contact with water avoided.”

“One should ensure that the containers are always protected against rain, snow and humidity,” GDA says on its website. “Leaks in steam pipelines, water pipes, radiators or roofs should be repaired immediately in order to avoid products coming into contact with water.”

blog comments powered by Disqus