, Salem, MA

December 11, 2012

Acid spill forces an evacuation in Danvers


---- — DANVERS — A chemical spill at a hazardous materials warehouse on Water Street forced the evacuation of 20 to 30 people yesterday but caused no injuries, fire officials said.

Fire Chief Kevin Farrell said an accident involving a forklift caused 10 bottles of nitric acid to break and spill onto the floor of Doe & Ingalls, a company that supplies chemicals to the life sciences industry.

Farrell said the spill amounted to “less than 10 gallons” and was contained within the building.

“They did what they were supposed to do,” Farrell said. “They reported it, and we responded.”

Farrell said nitric acid is a clear, corrosive liquid that is dangerous if inhaled and can burn skin. The chemical is nonflammable but could catch on fire if it comes in contact with paper, plastic or other materials, he said.

“The reaction could cause it to ignite,” he said.

The spill took place around 1:30 p.m. at 125 Water St., where Doe & Ingalls shares a large building with Harvey Industries, behind Eastern Propane Gas.

Fire and police responded and evacuated everyone inside the building. Doe & Ingalls contacted an environmental cleanup company to contain and clean up the spill using absorbent pads.

“We were fortunate that it was contained within the building,” Farrell said. “There were no floor drains.”

Farrell said the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection was notified of the spill. The agency was satisfied with the response and did not send a representative to the site, he said.

Doe & Ingalls, which is based in North Carolina, stores and delivers specialty production chemicals to the life sciences and microelectronics industries, according to the company’s website. It has warehouses in Danvers and Medford.

The warehouses combined can store up to 3,500 pallets of material, including flammables, corrosives and poisons, according to the website.

Farrell said the town has had no previous problems with Doe & Ingalls regarding chemical spills. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Doe & Ingalls was acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham in May for $175 million.

The spill took place across Water Street from the site of the 2006 chemical plant explosion that damaged 250 homes and businesses in the Danversport neighborhood.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or