Chemical Spill at the Powerhouse
On the morning of Wed Nov. 10, the Beloit College campus community was alerted via StuAlert that the Powerhouse was closed until further notice due to a chemical spill, which was upgraded to a shelter in place.
The shelter in place alert came at 10:41 a.m. via a RAVE Alert text message, the campus wide emergency alert system. This alert remained in place until noon, when students were notified that the shelter in place had been lifted. However, students were encouraged to go out only to go to class or get lunch from Commons..
At that time, the Dean of Students office explained that the incident involved a mixture of pool chemicals that created a hazardous gas in the area. A Rock County Hazardous Materials team was on site at the time. The plume was caused by an accident when the delivery driver from Viking Chemical Company of Rockford, IL, confused the muriatic acid and chlorine lines. The City of Beloit has not issued any citations for the incident.
Two individuals were taken to Beloit Memorial Hospital, and a third was taken by a family member. Two of the individuals received treatment and were released on the same day, while the third was in hospital care as of Thursday. No students were injured during the incident.
At 6:34 p.m., the President’s Office notified the community that the Powerhouse was clear of hazards.
The Powerhouse remained closed until 7:00 a.m. Friday to perform additional deep cleaning and ventilate any residual odors.
Student worker Amanda Langford’24 was working the fitness desk at the time of the event. It was a slow and quiet morning when she was told via walkie talkie to evacuate the building. She alerted anyone working out in the gym to exit the building as quickly as possible before making her own way out. “I was caught off guard because it wasn’t explained at first,” she said in a written interview.
At the time she didn’t notice any unusual smells, but still hurried to get out through the lower level. Since she was farther away from the truck, there was a mild chlorine scent, but as she and two other student workers moved closer to the bridge and truck, the smell became intense. “It smelled like a mix of chlorine and other chemicals, and it was so bad, I was wearing my mask and I still had to put my hand over my face. My eyes were slightly burning, but it lessened as we walked away from the Powerhouse,” she described. As she passed, she saw an individual in the grass, surrounded by people, with help they were able to move away from the scene.
Outside the building, workers were told what had happened with the pool chemicals and cleared to leave and go about their day.
A Beloit College representative was not available for comment.