Old Chemicals in School Lab Destroyed
LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) _ Like untidy homeowners, staffers let old, unused chemicals pile up in a high school chemistry lab. When they were finally discovered, several hundred people had to be evacuated while they were cleared out Saturday.
The chemicals at Littleton High School were found in a routine fire department check Thursday afternoon, said Diane Leiker, school spokeswoman. The wing with the chemicals was closed immediately but school continued Friday.
At least eight batches of chemicals were detonated, and a contractor hired by the city hauled away more. Residents were allowed to return to their homes after dusk, when the detonations were completed.
As a precaution, nearby car dealerships on busy South Broadway were closed and police and fire units set up a command post behind a bank. Teen volunteers in the Arapahoe Rescue Patrol helped police distribute fliers, and an evacuation center was set up.
The chemicals had been collected over the years for use in the school’s chemistry lab. Schools often buy more than they use, and unused materials end up being pushed to the back of storage areas.
``It’s a lot like the average home,″ said Jeannine Natterman of the Colorado Department of Public Health.
The chemicals included peroxide and perchloric acid, a high corrosive and explosive chemical. Most were dangerous only if moved or shaken, Natterman said.