Nitric acid spill prompts evacuation at business

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A hazmat situation on William Street in Buffalo is clear after a nitric acid spill late Friday morning.

You may have used nitric acid to clean test tubes in your high school chemistry class. But higher concentrations can be explosive. Niagara Testing Metallurgical, a company that tests metals and related applications, such as welding, was evacuated while hazmat crews evaluated the scene. The neighborhood around William Street and Benzinger was blocked off and residents in the surrounding homes were urged to evacuate the area, but it was not required.

Keenan Archilla was woken up by a neighbor. He said, “Said there’s a chemical spill. We thought he was joking around. We were like, what, a chemical spill in Lovejoy, when is that going to ever happen? So we just went down the street to the bar, chilled and waited it off.”

Once inside, firefighters assessed the danger, which they found to be minimal. A large container of nitric acid had overflowed, forming a pool of acid on the floor.

Buffalo Fire Division Chief James Lamacchia said, “They spread soda ash, which neutralizes the acid, and did a test on it for a percentage, and once we deemed that the material was safe, we cleared the area, and the clean-up will be left up to the company.”

Company officials informed emergency crews that the concentration of the nitric acid was 45-percent, diluted with water. It was enough to cause chemical burns but manageable for Buffalo’s bravest wearing their hazmat suits.

“The danger shouldn’t be that great, but we don’t anything for granted, so we treat everything as if it is dangerous,” Division Chief Lamacchia said.

A company official told News 4 the 45-percent concentration was being used as a cleaning agent. Still, fire officials say it is always better to err on the side of caution.

Division Chief Lamacchia said, “Well, anytime you are dealing with chemicals, it is always hazardous, and better to be safe than sorry.”

Buffalo Police say no one was injured in the incident. After about an hour, neighbors were given the all clear.

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