Accident at Princeton University’s Frick Lab Results in Evacuation, Three People Taken to Hospital

The scene outside the Frick lab this afternoon. Photo by Seth Callen.

About 300 people were evacuated from the Frick Chemistry Laboratory at Princeton University this afternoon after a glass container that had chemicals in it, which was stored in a cabinet, broke and injured a postdoctoral researcher, University officials said.

The researcher, who officials said was wearing rubber gloves and eye protection when the incident occurred at 1:19 p.m., was taken to the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro for treatment of minor chemical burns on her face. A graduate student who was in the laboratory at the time was taken to the  hospital as a precaution. The lab was inspected and reopened at 3 p.m.

Nitric acid was mixed with a solvent in the container, causing a reaction that built up pressure. When the container broke, the impact forced the cabinet door open. The door struck the researcher, bruising her right knee.

The Princeton University Department of Public Safety, Princeton Fire Department, Princeton University volunteer firefighters, the Trenton Fire Department’s Hazmat team and the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad responded to the incident.

A public safety officer was also taken to the hospital for evaluation after he experienced tingling in his arm, which may have been caused by exposure to the acid as he was helping the researcher.

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