A smelly refrigerator prompted the decontamination of about a dozen people Wednesday at the University of Kentucky.
Workers smelled a strong odor when they arrived Wednesday morning at the Dimock animal pathology building on Veterans Drive, UK spokesman Carl Nathe said. The workers realized the stench was coming from a refrigerator, and when someone opened it, the smell was overpowering, Nathe said.
A UK researcher had moved the refrigerator Tuesday evening from the Gluck Equine Research Center to the Dimock building, Nathe said. "There was nothing that the researcher thought was awry or anything," he said.
After the workers opened the refrigerator, they pulled an alarm, and the Lexington Fire Department's hazardous materials team responded, Nathe said. About 12 people were in the building, which houses several research laboratories and other UK offices.
Everyone evacuated the building, fire battalion chief Joe Best said. They then went through decontamination. The 11 people who reported minor irritation to the skin or eyes, and some nausea, were taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital by the fire department's mobile ambulatory bus, Best said.
It was one of the first times Lexington has used the bus, which was purchased for times when there are many injured people.
By 4 p.m. Wednesday, one person was kept for observation. All of the others had been released.
A chemical residue from something that had been stored in the refrigerator previously appeared to have been the cause of the stench, UK spokeswoman Kathy Jones said.
Firefighters were investigating what chemical caused the odor. They were keeping people out of the area as a precaution, Best said.
The building was reopened by 2:45 p.m., after UK environmental management officials tested the area for further chemicals. The building was clear, according to a UK news release.