Chemical leak prompts evacuation of campus buildings

Authorities say Freon leaked from a valve used for air conditioning in the Aquatics Center.

Frank

A chemical leak at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center prompted an immediate evacuation of the facility this morning. Authorities evacuated the building at 9:59 a.m. citing Freon leaking from the valve of a 400 pound cylinder used for air conditioning in the Aquatics Center. The airborne chemical Freon, a coolant also known as R22, left a mist inside the Aquatics Center. The Aquatics Center, Recreation Center and an adjacent parking ramp were all temporarily closed. A small portion of University Avenue was also blocked off during the evacuation. Minneapolis Fire Department officials allowed the cylinder to empty itself before ventilating the building. Freon is non-toxic, although prolonged exposure can cause frost-bite. None of the twenty people evacuated from the Recreation Center were injured, according to authorities. University police, the Department of Emergency Management and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety were all present at the scene. The closed buildings and University Avenue reopened around 11 a.m.