Glycol leak causes evacuation at Charlotte Central School

According to the CDC, glycol is an industrial compound found in automotive antifreeze. In this case, the glycol was used to prevent the school’s pipes from freezing. Photo by Chea Waters Evans
According to the CDC, glycol is an industrial compound found in automotive antifreeze. In this case, the glycol was used to prevent the school’s pipes from freezing. Photo by Chea Waters Evans
Charlotte Central School was evacuated for the day Dec. 9. Students were brought by bus to the Charlotte Congregational Church after an initially unidentified smell, that was causing some students and staff members to become lightheaded, was discovered coming from the boiler room.

In a recording sent to parents, Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief of Operations Bob Mason said, “A Charlotte operations and maintenance staff member discovered a glycol leak in the school’s boiler room.”

According to the CDC, glycol is an industrial compound found in automotive antifreeze. In this case, the glycol was used to prevent the school’s pipes from freezing.

Vermont State Police confirmed that about 50 to 100 gallons of polyglycol, a non-toxic antifreeze, spilled from the boiler located in the basement.

Students followed school fire drill protocol, filed outside and later into the gym, and eventually were evacuated and transported to the church, where they waited in pews and chairs while teachers and administrators kept them calm and answered questions both from students and parents. Emergency vehicles lined the church’s west parking lot, but all students and staff were safe and appeared to be in good health.

Seven adults and 8 children were screened by EMS personnel, but no one was transported to the hospital, police said.
Parents were able to sign students out and take them home; there was no school for the rest of the day and the Live Yers after-school program was cancelled. Students were transported home by bus with a 12:45 departure. Any K-3 students who did not have an adult at home were returned to the church.

In a letter to CCS families after the incident, Principal Barbara Anne Komons-Montroll said, “Families have been supportive in every way. The community’s response was tremendous with everyone pitching in to assist wherever needed. The greater community stepped in to assure all students and staff were safe and again, as a result, everyone was safe and sound. As is our procedure, we will be debriefing all protocols used in order to improve upon them. We are aware that our communication regarding the location for picking up your children needs greater clarity and we will remedy that immediately.”

Technical questions regarding the incident should be directed to Rob Mullin of the Charlotte Fire Department at (802) 425-3111. Questions regarding the school should be directed to the Charlotte Central School at (802) 425-2771. Questions regarding Vermont Hazmat can be directed to Chief Todd Cosgrove (802) 479-7586.