Chemical spill under investigation at Henderson State University

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ARKADELPHIA, Ark.-A chemical spill at Henderson State University leads to an evacuation and an on-going investigation.

It happened at the Reynolds Science Center earlier this month.

An assessment of the building revealed a presence of Benzoyl Chloride.

The school not saying much about this investigation.

According to the EPA, Benzyl Chloride is used as a chemical intermediate in the manufacture of certain dyes and pharmaceutical products and as a photographic developer.

Chain locks and police tape are on the doors at the Reynolds Science Center at Henderson State University.

“It kind of makes our school look iffy,” Nancy Kwetchou said.

The Henderson State University Police Department responded to a concern from a faculty member about a chemical odor in Reynolds Science Center on Tuesday, October 8 at 11:45 a.m. Upon entry to the building, UPD officials detected an odor of unknown origin and worked with Arkadelphia Fire Department to evacuate the building.

Creed Brantley was inside when it happened.

“Oh hey we need everyone to evacuate for a health inspection so it was kind of in and out,” Brantley said.

Since then, the university has worked with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and Arkansas State Police to conduct an assessment of the building. The assessment confirms that chemicals were spilled in a lab on the third floor.

So that is a little suspicious,” Shenai Porter said.

Tests indicate the presence of benzyl chloride in the laboratories.

“That’s kind of scary because what y’all doing Making that on campus why is that on campus like that doesn’t have any business being in the building,” Porter said.

Windows are boarded up and the building remains closed.

“I feel like we should be back in class if it was just a small chemical spill,” Porter said.

Some students are suspicious.

“We should know the truth since we go here and pay for classes here,” Porter said.

State Police says there is no criminal investigation.

CID agents did initially respond, however, once it became clear no criminal activity or intention had occurred, the agents were reassigned.

The school released a statement,

We are awaiting the results of additional testing while the university conducts a procedural review of the incident.

The building remains closed as remediation efforts continue. Classes have been relocated on campus or students have received alternate assignments.

The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority, and we continue to work with authorities to remediate the building.

Tina V. Hall
Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Henderson State University

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