Press Release - Office of College Advancement

Thursday, February 8, 2007
Office of College Advancement
Ohlone College

For Immediate Release:

Explosion of hazardous material at Ohlone College

Fremont, CA—Tuesday, February 6th a “planned explosion” took place in a field adjacent to the tennis courts on the Ohlone College Fremont campus. A 500 ml container containing approximately 25 grams of picric acid, formerly used in the engineering department, was found in one of the cupboards of a retired engineering professor and was taken to the Hazardous Waste storage facility on campus. Ohlone’s hazardous waste disposal company, Decon Environmental, noticed that the chemical had crystallized and needed to be disposed of quickly, as it had a potential to explode. They recommended that Ohlone immediately contact the Fremont Fire Department.

The Fire Department recommended a call to Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad as a precautionary measure to detonate the material. At approximately 4:30 pm, the president’s office was notified of the pending explosion, which took place at 6:10 pm. The blast was heard at several locations across the campus.

Ohlone College has a hazardous waste disposal program in which chemicals from the chemistry lab and other programs that use chemical substances are collected quarterly and disposed of in an environmentally safe manner by Decon Environmental. The material in question, Picric Acid, is no longer used on campus and was not part of the campus inventory, according to Steve Osawa, Chief of the Ohlone Police Department. However, the bottle was clearly labeled, so identification of its hazardous properties was quickly facilitated. Although the detonation of the material is termed a “planned explosion”, there was very little time to make the public or the rest of the campus aware because of the need for expeditious action.

For additional information, please contact the Office of College Advancement at 510-659-6206.


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