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Battery leak in Newtonville bank prompts administration to warn students

A Newton Police officer directs traffic around the site of a hazardous material spill Thursday morning, November 17. Photo by Josh Shub-Seltzer.

Firefighters responded to a HazMat incident caused by a leaking ATM battery at the Bank of America in Newtonville Nov. 17 in the morning, according to Lieutenant Eric Fricke, the public information officer at the Newton Fire Department.
During C-block Thursday, an announcement advised North students not to go into Newtonville due to this incident. Though it did not seem to be a critical emergency, administration decided to caution students, according to principal Henry Turner.
“There’s a wide gap between ‘something’s going on here’ and ‘the situation is immediately dangerous to life and health,’” and this situation was not immediately dangerous, said Fricke.
“Dispatch got a call for an odor in the building,” said Fricke. The Newton Fire Department and a state hazardous material team of six evacuated the building after measuring a high level of a poisonous and explosive gas, according to Fricke.
The Newton Fire Department cut the power to the ATM upon discovering the damaged battery, which stopped the battery’s leaking , said Fricke.
According to Fricke, the battery was leaking hydrogen sulfide, a flammable gas that causes asphyxiation. However, the gas was not near a dangerous level by the time responders arrived, said Fricke.
Fricke said that Walnut street closed both ways for a few hours in the morning, but re-opened when the problem was resolved.

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