Central Iowa HAZMAT crews were called early this (Friday) afternoon to the state capitol complex in Des Moines. Des Moines Fire Department spokesman Brian O’Keefe says it was a ventilation problem that could have caused some danger. A little after 1:30 he says they got a call to the Wallace State Office Building, where the state crime lab’s located. They were doing some routine testing, using sulfuric acid. A power surge to the building apparently shut down a ventilating fan and the sulfuric acid was in danger of building up, so they called the fire department’s HAZMAT unit. O’Keefe says fortunately the lab workers are trained professionals and they knew just what to do. Their procedure was to evacuate, and they started up an emergency generator to power the vent fans. That vented the rest of the sulfuric-acid byproducts and the gas had been confined to the lab all the time. Before long, HAZMAT packed up and handed over control of the site to the state lab again. He says the workers didn’t have to “decon” any of the workers. O’Keefe says the workers are all waiting to move into their new facility near the DMACC Ankeny campus, but for now the facilities do have adequate safety features and can vent any hazardous materials as well as “scrubbing” fumes before they’re released to the outside.
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