Officials have determined the cause of the odor that led to the evacuation of Rogers Hall earlier Friday.
In a message to the campus community, Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler said the source of the odor was Hydrogen Sulfide, which was being used as part of an experiment in a lab in the building. Rogers Hall, which is home to the College’s chemistry department, reopened Friday afternoon, Sadler said.
The chemical, which is not a health risk at the diluted levels experienced today, was underneath a hood in the lab that is connected to specially designed vents on the building’s roof, Sadler said.
“The hood is engineered to remove odors from the labs and it did. Unfortunately, the small amount of Hydrogen Sulfide created a very strong odor that was similar to the odor of natural gas, which understandably had us alarmed,” he said.
The odor in the vicinity of Rogers Hall was first reported to William and Mary Police at approximately 10 a.m. this morning. The academic building was immediately evacuated, as well as nearby Landrum Hall and Chandler Hall as a precaution. Virginia Natural Gas and the Williamsburg Fire Department arrived to the scene and it was determined that the odor was not natural gas. Landrum and Chandler halls reopened shortly before noon. Rogers Hall remained closed until safety personnel determined the cause of the odor at about 3 p.m.
“The small flask containing the chemical has been removed and the odor has dissipated. Today's unusual wind pattern is likely the reason the odor was so strong this morning. Rogers Hall has been reopened. Our facilities management team tells me they can fix the problem by modifying the roof's exhaust vents. I want to thank all members of the College community for their patience during this unusual incident,” Sadler said.