A chemical spill was reported at the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry building at Ohio State on Friday afternoon.
“Chemical spill at CBEC. (Columbus Fire Department) and (University Police) are on scene,” read a tweet from OSU Emergency Management posted at 4:36 p.m.
However, Dan Hedman, a spokesman for the Office of Administration and Planning, said just before 9 p.m. that no chemical spill had occurred. He added that the Environmental Health and Safety Office, which was on the scene, had concluded that a malfunctioning hot plate was to blame.
“A malfunctioning hot plate inside what’s called a “glove box” created an abnormal reaction,” Hedman said in an email.
Jessica Winter, a professor in chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, said two graduate students working in CBEC called her when they noticed something was unusual.
When the hot plate was malfunctioning, they thought the chemical inside the glovebox, Tellurium, was oxidizing and heating up.
Worried about a potential fire, Winter instructed them to call University Police.
Columbus Division of Fire, University Police and other emergency vehicles converged near CBEC as some students waited and watched from across West 19th Avenue after clearing the building.
Thirty fire personnel were at the scene, said Capt. Dave Olney, safety officer for the Columbus Division of Fire.
“(People in CBEC) had a product that was having an unexpected reaction, so we had to determine whether or not it was leaking out or if it was contained,” said Olney. “We determined it was contained, and then it was a matter of getting the technical people from OSU here on the scene to handle the product.”
Milauni Mehta, a third-year in molecular genetics and chemistry, made her way to the Oval after having to leave her undergraduate work early after alarms sounded.
“A lot of the chemists are really mad because everyone was in the middle of reactions and stuff,” she said. “And you have to leave it halfway.”
The CBEC building is now open and operating as normal, Hedman said.
Update 9:43 p.m.: This story was updated to include comments from Jessica Winter and Dan Hedman, as well as the comment regarding that there was no ongoing cause for concern at CBEC.
Correction: In the original version of this story, Jessica Winter’s name was misspelled as ‘Jennifer Winter.’