The toxic-substance spill at the center of a hazardous-materials incident involving a UPS delivery truck on Bohannon Drive in Menlo Park on Tuesday (Oct. 2) was ethanol, not benzonitril, a cyanide-related chemical originally thought to have leaked from a package in the truck.
A battalion chief from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, after determining that the spill was contained inside the truck, allowed UPS officials on the scene to call in a clean-up crew under contract to UPS, according to fire district Chief Harold Schapelhouman.
The private clean-up crew, in protective suits, made a video recording of the truck's interior that showed a leak coming from a gallon-sized container of ethanol, Schapelhouman said in a press statement.
The incident began with the UPS driver, a 41-year-old man, calling 911 at 10:24 a.m. to report difficulty breathing and requesting medical assistance, Schapelhouman said. The driver also called UPS management, and representatives of the company arrived simultaneously with paramedics from the fire district, Schapelhouman said.
First-responders found the driver leaning against the outside of the truck and trying to breathe, Schapelhouman said, adding that medics transported him to San Mateo County General Hospital.
Menlo Park police issued a shelter-in-place advisory at 11:32 a.m. for occupants and visitors to 3885 and 4000 Bohannon.
The situation evolved from a medical call into a hazardous materials incident after UPS officials retrieved from the truck a data sheet describing the chemical thought to be leaking. They conferred with the fire crew on the scene, who called the battalion chief, who called in the hazardous materials crew, Schapelhouman said.
The hazardous materials crew handed off the incident to a clean-up crew under contract to UPS after Menlo Park Battalion Chief Chris Pimentel downgraded the incident, released many of the firefighters called to the scene, and lifted the shelter-in-place order, Schapelhouman said.