Bomb squad hauls out chemicals

AUSTIN, Minn. – A maintenance facility sits across the street from the Austin High School. It also acts as storage space for many things, including hazardous waste.

“There’s certain procedures that we have to follow to dispose of things. That can be everything from fluorescent light bulbs to science chemicals,” said Austin Public Schools’ Director of Facility Services Mat Miller.

One of those chemicals made it necessary for the Bloomington Bomb Squad to come down and dispose of it.

“We were seeing dinitrophenol. It just has some different hazards when it’s sat for a while,” said Natalie Eskew with the Institute for Environmental Assessment’s Rochester office.

“Once a year we do a science safety checklist to look at our science labs and determine if there’s any chemicals that exceed the risk as compared to the educational value, so we’ve identified one of those chemicals this year,” Miller said.

In a matter of minutes, the bomb squad showed up to get the chemicals and left with them. It may be simple, but it is necessary.

Eskew acts as a health and safety consultant for many area schools, including Austin.

“We basically go in every year and take a chemical inventory and just see what they have. If we need to do a disposal we will. We set that up with regulatory agencies. This time it just happened to be the Bloomington Bomb Squad,” Eskew said.

As simple and discreet as the whole process was, it is not something that happens very often.

“I’ve been at IEA for almost ten years now and this is the first time I’ve dealt with them,” Eskew said.

“There’s obviously not a lot of chemicals that are explosive that need to be exposed of by a bomb squad, so this is a first for us to get them down here to dispose of any chemicals like that,” Miller said.

He said there are probably some more chemicals that would need to be taken care of by the bomb squad, but he said they are still being used and not ready to be thrown out quite yet.

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