The Louisville Cardinal

Campus fluorine leak ruled false alarm

fluorine leak, shumaker building

By Kyeland Jackson —

A possible fluorine leak triggered alarms in U of L’s Shumaker Research Building Sunday. Within minutes, emergency crews responded and determined it was a false alarm.

“We believe that cabinet lost power, which caused the alarm,” Major Kirby Martin said.

Research Associate Indika Wijayasinghe works in the lab where the leak was reported.

“We have a laser that uses fluorine gas, that (fluorine) is not hooked up to the laser,” Wijayasinghe said.

The fluorine is in a pressurized cylinder, held within an air cabinet which normally vacuums exposed gases. Exposure to flourine could burn the skin or lungs if inhaled. On-call building mechanic Elizabeth Williams pulled the alarm after Wijayasinghe reported a possible leak.

“I think it’s a malfunction of the alarm system,” Williams said.

Senior biology major Rachel Thompson was in the building when the alarm rang. She was taken to the ambulance to check for fluorine exposure, but refused tests.

“(I) wasn’t exactly sure what it was,” Thompson said referring to the alarm. She said a similar alarm activated after the building’s electricity cut off.

U of L custodian Supervisor Darnell Taylor said alarms in the building happen at least once a month.

“It happens all the time,” Taylor said.

U of L’s RAVE system said the area was secured.

Photo credit Kyeland Jackson / The Louisville Cardinal