A chemical spill emptied out a Downtown college building and snarled traffic on Jay Street this afternoon.
The Fire Department evacuated 300 students from New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering’s 6 MetroTech Center building at 2:30 pm, fire officials said. A container of sodium bromide, a water treatment powder, burst when a contractor was working on the school’s water supply, a school spokeswoman said in a statement. The substance got sucked into the school’s ventilation system and, though no one was injured, fire personnel were still barring people from the building at 4:50 pm, according to the spokeswoman.
More than 60 firefighters arrived on the scene in the afternoon, including a hazardous materials team. Sodium bromide is not highly toxic, according to the World Health Organization.
At 4 pm, some scientists-in-training were itching to get back into the lab.
“I can’t wait to get back inside and finish my work,” said Monica Agarwal, a doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering.
Agarwal was in a sixth-floor lab when an announcement came over the public address system telling everyone to evacuate, she said. People were pretty calm about it, but they smelled something strange on the way down, she said. When they got outside, a dozen fire trucks rolled up completely clogging Jay Street between Willoughby and Tillary streets.
A computer science student standing in the MetroTech plaza said he did not realize the evacuation was a big deal until all the trucks started arriving.
“At first we thought it was a fire drill but then we realized it was more serious,” said Gaurav Chaudhary.