ARCO – A hazardous gas leak Thursday afternoon led to an evacuation and temporary shut down at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.
Although most of the site remained open, a 400-meter area around the incident’s location was secured and evacuated, an official said.
“All personnel in the area have been accounted for. There were no injuries,” said Ray Grant, coordinator for INEEL’s public information center.
According to a Department of Energy news release, the incident occurred at INEEL’s Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center. At about 1:34 p.m., site workers detected a leak as they were attempting to remove 40-year-old cylinders containing anhydrous hydrofluoric gas, an extremely hazardous material also known as hydrogen fluoride.
INEEL’s fire department was notified and stopped the leak soon after it was discovered, the bulletin said. Although emergency response crews detected no residual material present, the area was secured and evacuated.
Neither Grant nor the department’s news bulletins said how much material was leaked.
“It may be a while before (investigating officials) ascertain the actual amount that’s been released,” Grant said, adding hydrofluoric gas has a variety of applications, including cleaning cast iron, removing rust and etching or frosting glass.
According to the department’s final bulletin, emergency operations have concluded and normal activities at the site have resumed.