Two members of the CRD HAZMAT Response Unit enter the science wing at EMCS to check for noxious odours after an experiment.

EMCS evacuated after stink fills school

Reactivity and compounds leads to afternoon break from school

No, it wasn’t a scene from Breaking Bad but they did look like something from an alien movie, or perhaps some sort of beings in Halloween costumes, but it was two members of the CRD HAZMAT Response Unit carrying out their jobs. They were checking for errant odours and air quality after responding to a call from the Sooke Fire Department.

Just around lunch time, a science experiment went horribly awry at Edward Milne community school. A chemical smell, that emanated from the science wing, quickly spread throughout the halls, prompting an evacuation of the building.

“Everyone is fine,” said principal Patrick Swinburnson, standing in the midst of students in the sports field behind the building, a half hour after the evacuation.

“We had a science experiment that got carried away.”

EMCS student Alex Thurlborn posted on the Sooke News Mirror Facebook page stating, “it was fumes from a chemical experiment, that the chemistry 11 class that I happen to be in was doing an experiment bromine and aluminum foil. The fumes somehow got into the air ventilation I suppose and went through the school.”

The emergency evacuation was a good test of their procedures. Teachers exited the building with class lists in hand, and students used cell phones to notify their parents. According to Swinburnson, 70 per cent of the students were released within the first hour of the evacuation, and the remaining students — including those from Port Renfrew — went to Journey middle school.

The school was closed for the duration of the day while the Sooke fire department ensured the school was safe.

Assistant Superintendent for SD62, Roberta Kubik, said principal Pat Swinburnson, “did an amazing job” looking after the safety of the students.

From student reporter Sydnee Moore:

The week after the gas leak, I interviewed three EMCS students and asked for their comments on the situation.

The first student Hayley McKee said, “it definitely took me by surprise!” She also added “walking into the hall, it smelled a lot like bleach.”

The second student Julia Pierce said she couldn’t smell anything from her class, so she was surprised when her teacher said, “Close the door and leave the room calmly,” also telling them to keep their hand over the mouths while leaving.

Jessie Nicks the third student, was in the class next door when the experiment went wrong, “it smelled so bad! Like rotten eggs.” Her class had to evacuate before hand since they were so close to the science room.

With files from Britt Santowski, Pirjo Raits and Sydnee Moore