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Emergency Officials Respond to Chemical Spill at Ethel Walker School

Two chemicals spilled in science lab.

Two chemicals were spilled in a science lab in the main classroom building at The Ethel Walker School Thursday morning, officials said. 

Jeff Chandler, supervisor of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's emergency response team said Nitric Acid and Caustic Soda were spilled in two separate areas of the third-floor lab classroom. Nitric acid can burn the skin but the amount was very small, Chandler said. 

He added that the two chemicals did not mix and police are investigating the cause of the spills. 

Officials said there were no injuries. 

Emergency crews first responded to the school at approximately 9:19 a.m. for a call of a chemical spill in a science lab classroom, fire marshal Kevin Kowalski said.

"The school followed all the appropriate procedures and the kids are safe," Kowalski said earlier in the morning.  

Bessie Speers, head of school, said no students were in the classroom at the time. Officials said a chemistry teacher discovered the spills before the kids arrived for class.

"The teacher went into the first-period class, saw the spill and notified me," she said. 

As a precaution, the entire building was evacuated and the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Company, Simsbury Volunteer Ambulance, the Simsbury Police Department, the regional Hazmat team and DEEP crews responded to the scene.

Chandler said the fire department made the initial investigation of the chemicals and then the DEEP crew cleaned them according to Occupational and Safety Health Administration standards. 

School remained in session Thursday and during the incident, classes were held outdoors and elsewhere, Speers said. She also said she wished to thank emergency officials for the quick and thorough response.

The Ethel Walker School, which has a 600-acre campus at 230 Bushy Hill Road, is a college-preparatory school for girls in grades 6-12. About 260 students are enrolled.

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