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Hazardous materials spill in Paleo-DNA lab clears university building

Fire department's hazardous materials unit on scene with efforts expected to take "a little while."
Hazmat spill
Emergency services responded to a hazardous materials spill at the 1294 Balmoral Building at Lakehead University on Monday, May 16, 2018. (Matt Vis,

THUNDER BAY – A "small spill of a substance" at the Paleo-DNA lab forced the evacuation of a Lakehead University building.

Emergency services responded to the 1294 Balmoral Building just after noon on Wednesday after building staff called in a spill of hazardous materials.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue’s hazardous materials response unit is at the scene, which is located on the west side of Balmoral Street between Jasper and Lithium drives and is at the southern end of the university's campus..

“We have a robust hazmat response. Hazmat calls take a lot of staff. It’s very labour oriented and actually quite slow,” fire chief John Hay said. “We may be here for a little while until we get prepared to enter and get some intel on what’s going on in there.”

A university communications bulletin advised the incident involved a spill in the Paleo-DNA lab and the building would likely be shut down for the next few hours.

Staff have been evacuated from the building and most have been cleared from the site.

“We’re just doing our research to determine the product, product properties,” Hay said. “Staff here have said it is a hazardous material so we’re going to take an abundance of precaution and start dealing with it in with our policies.”

One of the steps will be to sweep the building to make sure nobody else is inside, Hay said.

Superior North EMS paramedics and Thunder Bay Police Service officers also responded to the scene.

Hay said it hasn’t been confirmed whether anyone was injured.

“We’ve had some people with some complaints but we haven’t had anything confirmed, certainly not chemical contact,” Hay said.

Matt Vis

About the Author: Matt Vis

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Matt is honoured to tell the stories of his hometown.
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