DARTMOUTH — A single Halifax police cruiser guarded a chemical container in an abandoned parking lot behind the Penhorn Mall Sobeys on Friday.
It was a much different scene than the one from Thursday night, when, just before 5 p.m., police, Halifax Fire and EHS responded to reports of a woman suffering a medical emergency inside a car on Portland Street.
While helping her, three officers were exposed to a mixed chemical substance.
“It produced hydrogen sulfide — which is — we only presume, that’s what was produced, because we could not produce the chemicals that were involved,” said Assisant Fire Chief Chuck Bezanson of Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency.
It’s a corrosive, poisonous gas and the officers and woman were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The officers were treated and released Thursday evening.
The scene was cordoned off but there was no evacuation order issued for nearby homes or businesses.
“At the time, there was no concern for public safety,” said Const. Alicia Joseph of the Halifax Regional Police. “Officers remained on scene until the site was cleaned up, and cleared the scene.”
Halifax Fire and hazmat teams checked with four resources before determining the best way to clean up the hydrogen sulfide.
“Our hazardous materials crews did their research based on those chemicals, and came up with a selection of suits and decontamination methods before we even went near it,” Bezanson said.
It took four-to-five hours to put the mixed chemical inside a large, specialized barrel.
“They covered all the material, pulled it out of the vehicle, they put it something called an ‘overpack’, which is a big barrel,” Bezanson said. “Basically that it’s safe, it’s air tight, gas tight chemical free.”
The barrel was guarded by an officer before it was picked up by an industrial waste management team Friday afternoon and taken away for disposal.
Police say their investigation is complete and no charges are expected.