Building evacuated by HazMat team

From the "well, that's one way to take an afternoon and evening off" department...

There was apparently some kind of chemical (or biological? nobody seems to know anything) spill in the Bio Sciences building shortly before noon today. Since the Learning Commons is on the 5th floor of BioSci, that means we all got to make the journey down the concrete stairways to get the hell out of the building.

We have fire drills all the time, and it seems like some construction drone is always cutting something that shouldn't be cut, or sparking something that shouldn't be sparked, so we all assumed it was No Big Deal™. I left my Powerbook and iPod on my desk (taking only enough time to cleverly hide my iPod under a sheet of paper as it sat charging on my desk).

Turns out to be a Very Big Deal™. A few of us hiked to the nearby stip mall to have lunch at Harvey's, and on the way back were passed by the Regional Decontamination Unit (a doublewide Atco trailer) as it rushed towards our building.

As we get closer, we see police cars blocking traffic, fire engines everywhere, and the hazmat team donning their cool blue suits (the ones with the funky helmets). There's a kiddie pool set up outside the main entrance to decontaminate them as they come out, and the whole building is behind a string of police tape. News crews shooting tape. Photographers photographing. Gawkers gawking. Warderns warding. No mushroom clouds, though.

But, nobody has a goddamned clue what's going on, including Campus Security, the City Police, and the building fire wardens. Some say it's a chemical spill. Some say biological. Some say the building is sealed for at least 24 hours. Some say 2. There was a spill at the Health Sciences building last night, and that closed the building for 5 hours. I guess I'll know more when I show up for work tomorrow.

Could be worse. Some folks are saying there was one person injured. I just had to eat at Harvey's... I do feel very lost without my Powerbook (and especially my iPod) - perhaps that's telling me to take some time off...

Update: Woah. Turns out it wasn't a spill, but a suspicious envelope. Just got this email from Campus Security:

At 11:30 a.m. today the Bio Sciences building was evacuated as a precaution
due to a concern involving an envelope sent to an office in that building.
Since that time another envelope has been discovered in the same office
and we are now in the process of investigating whether or not these packages
pose any harm.

Please be on alert that if you receive an envelope or package with no return
address or a return address of anyone you do not recognize or in particular
has a return address of North York, Ontario DO NOT OPEN the envelope. Call
Campus Security immediately at 220-5333, identify yourself, your building
and room number. All occupants should leave the room, shut the door and
wait in the immediate area for Security to arrive.

Update: Story and photo by the Gauntlet

Hazmat team outside BioSci
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