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May 27, 2022

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Chemical mishap forces evacuation at Fort Vancouver High

By , Columbian environment and transportation reporter

A chemical exposure Thursday at Fort Vancouver High School prompted a response from firefighters and forced students and staff to evacuate briefly.

Vancouver Fire Department firefighter Pete Adams said the school’s chemistry department received a chemical — a solution of tetraethylammonium hydroxide — and found it wasn’t what they ordered.

Around noon, as the staffers were packing the chemical to return it, they noticed a bubbling sound and thought they saw smoke, Adams said. They stuffed the substance, in its container, into a fume hood and switched it on, then sounded the alarm to evacuate.

Firefighters didn’t find any trace of vapors in the building, and Adams said it didn’t seem the chemical’s container had been damaged.

Adams said the entire incident lasted about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, but students and staff did not need to stay outside the whole time. District spokeswoman Pat Nuzzo said firefighters gave people the all clear to enter the school, then the wing of the building where the exposure occurred.

The chemical, a strong base, is commonly used in etching silicon, such as for microchips.

Columbian environment and transportation reporter

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