Hundreds evacuated after chemical accident

University Police responded to a reported chemical spill in the Kopp Engineering Building around noon Wednesday after a teaching assistant mixed two noxious chemicals, causing a temporary closure of the building and the evacuation of approximately 200 people.

According to a media release issued by UP, the call was prompted after civil and environmental engineering graduate student Brandon Berke combined ethanol and nitric acid in a lab. Berke inhaled fumes from the mixture, which he was preparing for a class he was to teach.

Berke was taken to a local hospital after Tampa Fire Rescue arrived and advised that the building be closed due to the indeterminate volatility of the solution. A hazardous materials team followed and ruled that while the lab required ventilation, the rest of the building was safe.

The building was reopened at approximately 2 p.m. Minor damage was done to the lab, but no other injuries were reported.