The Mass Media was able to obtain a copy of the Boston Fire Department Report regarding the hazmat incident at the West Residence Hall that occurred on March 28, 2019.
As per the report, the official incident was termed a “chemical spill or leak.” The alarm asking for units to respond was raised at 9:55 p.m. First responders arrived at the scene at 10:02 p.m. and cleared the scene at 11:14 p.m. Three actions were taken: “identify, analyze hazardous materials,” “provide manpower” and “provide equipment.”
Upon “a report of a Level 2,” the Boston Police Department “reported that a male resident of the dorm had mixed two substances, Sodium Hydroxide and Naphtha in his dorm room.” Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye and caustic soda, is very corrosive and can cause severe chemical burns. Naphtha can be a number of flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixtures obtained from the processing of petroleum and coat tar. It is flammable, carcinogenic, irritates skin and airways, and has other effects that a flammable hydrocabon mixture has. The exact circumstances of how the student was able to obtain these materials are unknown.
The report continues, “All of the substances were flushed down the sink with copious amounts of water by R.A.'s (sic) from UMass. The remaining products, which were in approved containers had been removed from the building. Room was isolated until arrival of E22 and T-12. The products were returned to the lobby [ … ] for inspection and determination on the actual substance. A quick search of haz-mat materials and possible outcomes was conducted and it was reported the resident had read on [G]oogle and was seeing if the attempt to extract DMTs was successful.” The report then goes on to mention that DMTs are a “hallucinogenic tryptamine drug which can cause brief but intense visual and auditory hallucinogenic experiences.”
This report provides more insight into the “chemical” incident that occurred on the ninth floor of the West Building and confirms speculation that a student was attempting to manufacture a drug.
The report continues, “No readings were obtained by E22’s meters upon entry into the room. All members wore full turnout gear and SCBAs [self-contained breathing apparatus]." A UMass police officer also asked to be seen by EMS around this time.
Responders then conducted an interview with the 18-year-old male resident, who said that his intent was “the extraction of DMTs.” The student was then put into a Tyvek full-body hazmat suit for “precaution and treatment by BEMS.” This confirms the suited figure that many eyewitnesses from the East Building reported seeing, which was an aspect that was noticeably absent in the university’s official statement regarding the incident.
After the resident was placed in the suit, on-campus police took custody of the chemicals and building was turned over to school personnel.