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Elmwood Park School Reopening After Chemical Leak Sends Pupils To Hospital

At the Gantner School. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
Elmwood Schools Supt. Anthony Grieco with Police Chief Michael Foligno outside the school. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. -- A leaking HVAC unit sent three Elmwood Park elementary school students, a custodian and a firefighter to local hospitals Wednesday, authorities said.

The incident triggered the evacuation of the Gantner Avenue Elementary School on Roosevelt Avenue and a massive emergency response just after 1:30 p.m.

The building was deemed safe, and classes were expected to resume Friday, Police Chief Michael Foligno said.

"Bergen County HazMat Unit conducted a comprehensive investigation of the school, as well as the surrounding area to determine the origin of the odor," Foligno said. "It was eventually determined that an HVAC unit for the building was leaking Glycol, and the odor of the compound was being circulated through the HVAC system.

"According to HAzMat and EMS officials, Glycol is not hazardous, but may contribute to the symptoms experienced by the students and other persons affected today," the chief said.

"The school is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors and at no time did they indicate a presence of carbon monoxide," Foligno said. "Additionally, fire officials and members of the HazMat unit evaluated the entire building with specialized carbon monoxide detectors and did not detect any in or around the building."

School officials were having the HVAC unit repaired in time for school Friday, the chief said.

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