Unknown chemical odor results in partial building evacuation at Adams State

(02-10-2014)

Adams State University will contract with a professional decontamination crew to clean an area of Porter Hall that was inundated with a strong chemical odor Monday morning, according to Dr. Joel Shults, Adams State Chief of Police. Porter Hall houses Adams State's science, mathematics, and engineering programs.

The chemical substance has not yet been identified, but an investigation is continuing, Shults said. Responders were on the scene until shortly before 11 a.m., when the area was taped off with warning signs.

"We may have some lessons to learn, or we may have someone culpable for this that needs to be identified," he added.

He said about 9 a.m. Feb. 10, a staff member reported an odor concentrated in a stairwell in the northeast corner of the building. Adams State Police responded and notified the Alamosa Fire Department, which vented the area until the odor was dissipated. Building occupants were advised to vacate the immediate area.

Three floors of faculty offices and some student work areas are now behind warning signs, which advise that an unknown chemical contaminant may still be present. Until the contaminant can be identified, possible side effects remain unknown, as well. It is not known at this time how long the decontamination process will take.

Shults reported he was initially unable to enter the affected stairwell area without a gas mask. "We had an appropriate response from my office, the Porter staff and faculty, our facilities personnel, and the fire department. Dealing with this was another great team effort," he said.

By Julie Waechter