Cause of chemical reaction probed

21:00, Jun 28 2013

Horowhenua school pupils will be having an inadvertent chemistry lesson after a chemical reaction in the science classroom's storage closet caused an unexpected combustion.

The Levin secondary school will find out on Monday which chemicals sparked the reaction that led to a whole school evacuation and decontamination.

The school was being cleaned by chemical decontamination experts and the identity of the chemicals that caused the toxic fumes leading to the "combustion" would be investigated during the weekend, Levin deputy chief fire officer Carl Beissel said.

Four students, two teachers, the school's deputy principal, a caretaker, an ambulance officer, and three firefighters had to be decontaminated in a chilly high-pressure shower on Thursday after coming into contact with fumes that seeped out from a metal safe used to store chemicals.

The two girls who discovered the smoke were taken to Palmerston North Hospital to be checked.

"The safe did its job and contained it," principal Brenda Burns said. "It was an exemplary evacuation and we were pleased by the students' response.

"We were able to make a positive experience out of something that could possibly have been very negative."

The emergency was the second day in a row the school had to be evacuated. A toilet roll holder was set alight in a toilet block on Wednesday, spreading toxic fumes and causing smoke damage.

Mrs Burns said video surveillance footage was being looked at to determine who was responsible.


Manawatu Standard