Hazmat crews called to U of U after dangerous liquid nitrogen spews from 2,000-gallon tank

File photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 25, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Fire Department and hazmat crews were called to the University of Utah early Saturday morning after a 2,000-gallon tank of liquid nitrogen began to leak and formed a visible plume of the dangerous gas.

“The call came in at 4:24 a.m. from University Police,” Captain Tony Stowe, SLCFD, told Gephardt Daily. “Our crew arrived to find a plume of liquid nitrogen coming from a 2,000-gallon tank.”

Hazmat workers donned protective suits with protective materials, gloves and full breathing apparatus before entering the V. Randall Turpin University Services Building, 1795 S. Campus Dr.

They were able to pinch closed the leaking pipe, which was approximately a quarter inch in diameter, Stowe said.

Liquid nitrogen can displace oxygen and carbon dioxide from people’s lungs, quickly causing asphyxiation, Stowe said. It also freezes skin, and is the same gas a dermatologist might use in tiny amounts to freeze off a wart, he said.

No injuries were sustained by fire or hazmat crews.

With the leak stopped and the scene secure, fire and hazmat crews left further repairs to the University of Utah or anyone the school cares to contract for the job, Stowe said. His crews were on scene for about 40 minutes, Stowe said.

University of Utah Department of Public Safety officials did not return multiple calls requesting information.


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