Ammonia Leak Closes SUNY Potsdam Athletic Building
Cleanup crews are working to clear an ammonia spill that forced SUNY Potsdam's athletic complex to close Tuesday morning.
An employee at Maxcy Hall is credited with detecting the leak.The worker detected a strong odor and when he investigated, found the ammonia leak and quickly notified authorities. "There's a 600-pound tank of ammonia that is used as a coolant for the ice rink," said Joe Gilbert, St. Lawrence County's emergency services director. "This morning there was a smell of ammonia and an alert person pulled the fire alarm." SUNY Potsdam spokeswoman Alexandria Jacobs tells 7 News the leak was discovered in a mechanical room inside Maxcy Hall around 6 a.m. The amount of the chemical that leaked is unknown, but appears to be less than officials feared. The spill was contained in the mechanical room. Officials say the tank is part of a newly installed cooling system for the rink. It's part of a $9 million renovation project. The building, home to the college's athletic facilities, was evacuated and remains closed. College officials say they expect the building will be open Wednesday. "No students or staff are in any danger," Jacobs said. There was a delay in determining the extent of the leak, because emergency crews had to wait for hazardous materials teams from Fort Drum, Watertown, Jefferson County, and Franklin County. St. Lawrence County no longer has a hazmat team. It fell victim to budget cuts. "All of our first responders, to a degree, are trained in hazmat operations, so we're not with expertise," said Gilbert. Op-Tech Environmental Services and Clean Harbors are on scene to assist with the cleanup.