Chemistry Experiment Mishap Prompts Evacuations at MSU

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A bit of a scare Tuesday morning at Michigan State University, after people on the northern part of campus reported a strong smell of natural gas. Police and fire crews sprang into quick action, only to find the smell was the result of a mishap with a chemistry experiment.

MSU Police received a call about the strong gassy smell just after 9:00 a.m. Winds were blowing the odor to the north. Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor says people evacuated several campus buildings including the Hannah Administration Building and Olds Hall. “North campus evacuated. There were several across campus, north campus, and then there were a few on south campus that were evacuated."

As the buildings emptied, police and fire crews canvassed the campus, until they found the source of the smell inside the Chemistry Building. Police say it was a glass bottle being used in a chemistry experiment. The bottle had burst, sending it’s chemical contents into the air.
Sgt. McGlothian-Taylor said, “When the bottle broke in the Chemistry building, the odor vented through the fume hood, so it was getting it out of the building the way that it should have worked."

After the discovery, people were allowed back into evacuated buildings. Police say University personnel took the appropriate precautions. “Especially after what we've seen in the news lately with the explosions and other cities and so forth. They did the right thing. We got the messages out to our Emergency Actions Team, in terms of what was taking place. We go through a lot of training here at the University with our individuals within the buildings and so yes, they did exactly the right thing by evacuating the building."

Sgt. McGlothian-Taylor says the odor was harmless, and could be detected north of campus on Grand River and in East Lansing.