UMD Chemical Fire Sends 17 to the Hospital

Stadium Drive between Regents Drive and Paint Branch Drive were closed as officials investigated the fire. (Photo | The Diamondback).

A fire in the University of Maryland Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Building this morning hospitalized 17 people. A campus alert sent by University of Maryland Police said, “Individuals were conducting a lab experiment and a chemical reaction caught on fire.”

Prince George’s County Fire Department spokesperson, Michael Yourishin, told The Diamondback that the people taken to the hospital were in not life-threatening condition and were sent as a precaution. Those people included students, fire department officials, police officers, a contractor, and a university employee.

The Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Building is home to the Maryland University Training Reactor (MUTR): a 250-kilowatt fission reactor, whose core sits in a pool of water.

“The water acts as a moderator and it slows neutrons from high to low energy,” said Alex Reardon, a senior at UMD studying chemistry and geophysics.

“It also uses [low-enriched uranium zirconium] for fuel, which has a negative temperature coefficient,” Reardon continued. “As the temperature of the core increases, such as in the event of a fire, the reactivity decreases, and fission chain reactions slow down.”

University of Maryland Police reported the fire was out just after 12 p.m. A final update on the incident was issued at 4:02 p.m., stating that the section of the building where the fire was is still closed for cleanup, but the rest of the building and the adjacent roadways are back open.

Like this post? Sign up for our Daily Update here.
Sam Merrill

About Sam Merrill

Intern at Montgomery Community Media, senior broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland.


| Comments are closed.

Engage us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter