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Chemical spill leads to evacuation of businesses

People employed in the St. Croix Ventures commercial building on Livingstone Road in Hudson got an unscheduled afternoon off from work Friday, Jan. 23 while a hazardous materials cleanup firm dealt with a spill of dichloromethane.

An employee at Overseal Color Inc., 1632 Livingstone Road, told the Hudson Fire Department that a four-liter bottle of the chemical shattered when he attempted to pick it up off the floor.

The company reported the spill to authorities at 11:15 a.m.

Fire Chief Jim Frye said a fire department guidebook on hazardous material spills recommended evacuating premises within 80 to 160 feet of the spill. That required telling people to leave all the businesses located in the building, he said, including Ultimate Fitness, Stevens Engineering, R&S Heating, Northern Engine & Supply and Phillips Origen Product Development.

The building's ventilation system was shut down to prevent the fumes from spreading.

Frye said the fire department was required to secure the scene while a hazardous materials firm was contacted to clean up the spill. Bay West of the Twin Cities arrived at 1:43 p.m., he said, and cleanup was complete at 4:37 p.m.

No one was injured in the incident, according to Frye. He said a section of the carpet that the dichloromethane spilled onto had to be removed.

Dichloromethane is a colorless organic liquid most often used as a paint remover. It isn't flammable, but is an eye and skin irritant.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, people exposed to high levels of the chemical for relatively short periods of time can suffer damage to their nervous system and blood.

Frye said the air inside the building was tested and found to be safe before people were allowed back inside late Friday afternoon.

Randy Hanson can be reached at

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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