Advertisement
  1. News

Evacuation ordered at Tampa airport post office; nine treated for exposure to chemical smell.

The post office at Tampa International Airport after a chemical leak prompted an evacuation. [AMANDA ZHOU | TIMES]
The post office at Tampa International Airport after a chemical leak prompted an evacuation. [AMANDA ZHOU | TIMES]
Published Jul. 24, 2019

TAMPA — A package containing a chemical irritant leaked at the airport's postal service center Wednesday, prompting a three-hour evacuation.

Five people were taken for treatment to St. Joseph's Hospital and another four declined further medical care after they were treated at the scene, said Jason Penny, spokesman for Tampa Fire Rescue. Their symptoms were minor, he said.

The chemical that spilled is called tert-Butyl hydroperoxide, which is used in the manufacture of various commercial and industrial products.

The origin of the package, which has a tracking number, is currently under investigation, said United States Postal Inspector Doug Smith.

Officials said the chemical was in a container that was approximately gallon-sized and leaked into its surrounding package. Workers in the post office's processing plant complained about trouble breathing because of a strong smell.

Tampa Fire and Rescue received the call around 8:36 a.m. A Hazmat team monitored the air and confirmed the spill was limited to the immediate site.

The chemical had dripped onto some envelopes, which were put into plastic bags. Then the liquid was tested. Its exact name was later found on the container.

After 11 a.m., workers were allowed back inside.

The Tampa Police Department bomb squad, Tampa International Airport police and the FBI were on scene, Penny said.

"It was an all hands effort to ensure the safety of the public," he said. "Fortunately, it did not affect air travel in and out."

Contact Amanda Zhou at azhou@tampabay.com. Follow @amondozhou.