Saint Martin's will review safety procedures in accident's aftermath

Sept. 23, 2005

Lacey – In the wake of a chemistry class accident that injured nine Saint Martin’s University students Wednesday, the university will initiate a full review of its safety procedures to determine what went wrong and what changes should be made to laboratory safety protocols, said Douglas Astolfi, Ph.D., the university’s president.

The students were injured when a large glass bottle exploded during a combustion demonstration by the Saint Martin’s Chemistry Club before an organic chemistry class. The explosion shattered the bottle’s thick glass, sending it flying through threw the classroom. Injured students were treated by area hospitals and released later Wednesday. The university’s Old Main building, where the accident occurred, was evacuated and remained closed for investigation and clean-up after the accident.

Astolfi said the university also will study its emergency response procedures to determine ways to improve them in light of what was learned through the experience. Saint Martin’s has not had a full-blown emergency response since the Feb. 28, 2001, Nisqually Earthquake. Its emergency response personnel ran into problems with communications and emergency supplies when Old Main, the university’s primary administrative and classroom building, was rendered inaccessible by the accident and subsequent investigation.

The safety and protocol review will begin as soon as a review team is assembled. The emergency procedures review will begin next week.

Astolfi, who was out of town on university business when the accident occurred, met Thursday with students who were in the classroom when the accident occurred and met Friday with members of the university community to answer questions and give information. Saint Martin’s counselors continue to meet with those Saint Martin’s students experiencing accident-related stress.

For more information:

Deanna Partlow
Media relations coordinator
360-438-4541; dpartlow@stmartin.edu