2nd floor of Sisler Hall re-opens after chemical explosion

Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.

The University of Florida has re-opened the floor of Sisler Hall where a chemical explosion injured a graduate student last week.

A contractor on Monday removed the remnants of the chemical involved in the explosion, sodium azide, said UF Environmental Health and Safety Director William Properzio. An extensive decontamination and cleaning lasting most of the day also were done, he said.

Sisler Hall was closed following the explosion but three of the hall's floors re-opened Friday. The second floor of the hall and UF chemistry professor Alan Katritzky's laboratory, where the explosion took place, were opened Tuesday as classes resumed following the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

Properzio said researchers have been allowed to return to the lab but not work with chemicals there.

"They're not doing any further chemistry work in that lab at the present time," he said.

Paul D'Anieri, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, announced last week that such work in Katritzky's lab is suspended indefinitely as procedures and research done there are reviewed. Properzio said his office is still investigating the cause of the incident and discussions will take place over whether use of sodium azide would be allowed to continue.

The graduate student hurt in this week's incident, Khanh Ha, was working with sodium azide in the lab when an explosion seriously injured his face, hand and body, according to Gainesville Fire Rescue. Properzio said Ha has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Another graduate student was injured in the same lab in an explosion involving the same chemical in October.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com. For more stories on the University of Florida, visit www.thecampussun.com.

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