Acid causes evacuations at Oregon college

NEWBERG, Ore. --

Buildings on the campus of George Fox University were evacuated Tuesday morning because of an unstable chemical, a school official said.

A lab technician in the Edwards-Holman Science Center found a bottle of picric acid just before 9 a.m. In liquid form, picric acid is safe to handle, a school official said; however, some of the acid had collected around the edge of the bottle and dried.

"Hitting it with a hammer, dropping it -- even in some cases, just a light disturbance -- could cause it to explode," said Carlisle Chambers, a chemistry professor at George Fox.

The science center, the campus quad and three nearby buildings were evacuated to allow for the Oregon State Police bomb squad to safely remove the chemical.

The explosives experts also destroyed a second container of picric acid as a precaution. The university rarely used the substance and will no longer stock it, according to a news release.

The acid has did not cause any injuries or illnesses, officials said.

Classes were canceled until 5 p.m., and students were asked to avoid the area or leave the campus altogether.

George Fox University is a private Christian college located on Meridian Street in Newberg, about 23 miles south of Portland. The college has an enrollment of 3,368 students.

Copyright 2010 by All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.