Twelve evacuate site after hazmat spill in Menlo Park | November 21, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - November 21, 2012

Twelve evacuate site after hazmat spill in Menlo Park

by Dave Boyce

Firefighters from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and the hazardous materials handling team from San Mateo County spent more than two hours Wednesday night, Nov. 14, dealing with a spill of about 2.5 gallons of a corrosive cleaning agent at Sand Hill Foods Corp., a research and development firm at 1140 O'Brien Drive (Suite B), according to Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman.

Twelve people evacuated the building, including people from the adjoining suite. There were no injuries, he said. The site is a commercial building in a light industrial district off Willow Road east of U.S. 101.

While employees were cleaning a pasteurization test machine, a hose disconnected and spilled the fluid, the chief said. Someone may not have tightened it as much as needed, he added.

The HazMat team entered the building with level B protection, meaning a protective suit and an air-breathing backpack and face mask, but no helmet or "moon suit," the chief said.

The corrosive nature of the cleaning fluid reflected the intent of getting the testing machine "absolutely clean," the chief said.

After an inspection, HazMat allowed the employees back in to clean up the spill.

Sand Hill Foods shares office space with Lyrical Foods. In an email to the Almanac, Jean Prevot, the director of operations for both companies, described the incident as "a small cleaning accident" while sanitizing equipment.

"We take health and safety in our company and local community very seriously," she said. The fire marshal and county environmental inspector have given the company the go-ahead to resume operations, she said. "We are back to full operations and taking this opportunity to review and increase our safety precautions."


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