Chemical spill in Biotech prompts fire, hazmat response

A chemical spill, later found to be a skin irritant, caused the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies to evacuate on Friday, around 1:15 pm. Troy Fire Department responded to the scene with several engines and a hazmat unit, and 15th Street was blocked off by Troy Police for over an hour.

A statement from RPI Strategic Communications and External Relations said:

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute evacuated the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies this afternoon following a small chemical spill. No one was injured. Rensselaer worked in full cooperation with the Troy Fire Department, and we thank them for their timely and professional response. The spill was professionally remediated. As a precautionary measure, Rensselaer has closed the building for the rest of the day. It will reopen tomorrow morning.

The Polytechnic found that the chemical spilled was beta mercaptoethanol, also known as 2-mercaptoethanol or BME. It is considered toxic, causing irritation to nasal passages, airways, and skin in small amounts and death in severe cases.

One subject was reported to have gone to the Student Health Center for evaluation and as a precaution.