UMPD closed off Cold Storage Drive during the incident keeping folks away from lot 12
So for those of you wondering what that loud explosion was Friday night around 10:00 PM emanating from near UMass Graduate Research Center and reverberating to surrounding towns, fear not: nothing exotic like a terrorist attack or meth lab gone awry.
Although, it was lab related: an old, possibly unstable, container with less than 16 ounces of tetrahydrofuran turned up during a lab clean out and the normally clear liquid had started forming crystals, which are potentially explosive. Local authorities took no chances.
AFD Chief Tim Nelson, who is a district team leader for regional HazMat response, took command at the scene. The container was escorted to an out-of-the-way location near parking lot 12 and then detonated by Mass State Police bomb squad experts.
All in all, a seamless team effort by AFD, UMPD, UMass Environmental Health & Safety and Mass State Police.
AFD Central Station 4/12/13. DPW truck (rear) was used to transport chemicals out of town center
Back on April 12 AFD had a similar experience, only the potentially dangerous materials were brought directly to them. An Amherst resident cleaning out his dad's basement (dad was a former chemist) brought a cardboard box full of old unmarked chemicals to Central Station on a busy Friday afternoon.
The items were placed in the back of a very large DPW truck and quickly but gently escorted to the top of the Notch where they were destroyed in a controlled demolition.
AFD has four members on the Western Mass Regional Hazardous Materials Team and they drill on a monthly basis. Last night the training came in handy.