Monday, December 15, 2008
Workers in the Allegheny County Office Building Downtown have been given the day off as HAZMAT crews “air out” the building. A worker noticed a strong smell of chemicals in the subbasement around 6:30 this morning and then noticed a barrel holding chloroform and methanol was leaking. County Medical Examiner Karl Williams says the chemicals are used in the crime lab and a contractor had placed them in the barrel for disposal. Williams says a small amount of moisture was noticed at the base of the barrel Friday and the contractor was called to remove it. Williams says the leaking barrel was placed inside another container this morning and workers were sent home as a precaution. Williams says the chemicals pose no long-term health risks and will dissipate quickly. As a mater of routine, workers in the County Crime Lab use the chemicals as solvents and collect them for later disposal. Williams says the barrel should not have leaked if just those two chemicals were combined. He says the contents will be tested before being disposed of later today.