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Posted on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 9:45 a.m.

HazMat team cleans up gallon of hydrochloric acid spilled in Ann Arbor barn

By Kyle Feldscher

A gallon of hydrochloric acid spilled in an Ann Arbor barn Thursday evening, causing the Washtenaw County Hazardous Materials crew to spend about four hours cleaning up.

Ann Arbor Fire Department officials said firefighters were sent at 4:38 p.m. Thursday to a barn behind a home in the 2900 block of Kimberly Street. Officials said someone on a cleanup crew working in the barn dropped a glass jar with an unknown liquid on the second floor of the barn.

After a short time, the crew saw smoke coming from the spill, got out of the building and called the fire department. Ann Arbor firefighters arrived and then called a second AAFD unit with extra hazmat training.

That crew determined they needed to call the Washtenaw County HazMat Team. The team entered the building and determined about a gallon of hydrochloric acid had spilled onto debris in the barn.

The HazMat crew added a powder that neutralized the acid, fire officials said in a press release. Crews eventually left the scene at 8:39 p.m.

No one was injured, but a Huron Valley Ambulance crew was on scene.

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Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sun, Sep 1, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

I know the fire dept if only doing its job. But a call like this with two teams called probably only cost taxpayers about $20,000. Just have to wonder if there isn't a more efficient way to have one person with training respond to identify what the problem is before dispatching further.


Sat, Aug 31, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

Say what you will about hydrochloric acid, but it is your best friend when it comes to cleaning up those pesky mercury spatters around the kitchen stove

Tom Joad

Sat, Aug 31, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

Obviously the owner violated the cardinal rule for chemicals: All chemicals must be kept in the original container with the labels intact. HCl is classified as a strong acid and should be treated with caution and care, but ultimately it's the label that will tell its molar (normality) concentration.


Sat, Aug 31, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

Ammonia would confirm and neutralize the acid in the air, I could have cleaned this for two dollars.

Hugh Giariola

Sat, Aug 31, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

So where were you?


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

It is not all that uncommon to find unlabeled containers of nasty stuff in old buildings.

John of Saline

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

That'll clear your sinuses.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Wow, football season hasn't even kicked off and the armchair quarterbacks are in full force on 1) The FD gets called to everything. Other than fighting fires, the FD is the first response team to anything 'unknown'. 2) The FD determined they couldn't SAFELY determine what the substance was and called in the county HazMat team. Of which, many AAFD members are a part of. 3) Only AFTER the experts were on scene, was it determined what the chemical was and then neutralized. It's easy to sit in your living room saying, "Well, what I would've done is..." when you just read the outcome and what the substance was. I wonder if you would have the same 'bravery' not knowing what the substance was after it started smoking on the ground to just walk up w/o any protection and make such bold statements.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

It appears, based on Kyle Fledscher's story, that no one knew what the spilled liquid was until the WC HazMat Team arrived and made the determination that it was hydrochloric acid. Previous comments imply that the nature of the liquid was already known.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Feldscher, not Fledscher. Sorry about that, Kyle.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

seriously calling the hazmat team to clean up a little spilled muriatic acid? as numerous posters before me have commented, any common household base e.g. baking soda or lye would neutralize the acid and the result can be cleaned up with water... what a waste of public time and resources. guess we need better chemistry education...


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

2 hazmat crews for 1 gal of HCL??????????? A bit of an overkill I would say!

An Arborigine

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Nothing that a little Arm 'n Hammer won't take care of. Question is, why Hydrochloric acid in a "barn"?


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

If you think of a barn as only a place to have cows and goats, then yes perhaps the storage of some chemical may seem strange. However, barns have also been known to be working areas for all sorts of things.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

Yeah, he was probably doing something sinister with it like... etching homemade circuit boards. I'd hate to find out that every hardware store around sells this stuff by the gallon... oh wait they do.