Firefighters, hazmat respond to Rite Aid in Merced

vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.April 25, 2014 

Members of the county hazardous materials team answered reports of a chemical found behind the Rite Aid in Merced on Friday.

VICTOR A. PATTON — vpatton@mercesunstar.com

— Bottles of a chemical found behind the Rite Aid drugstore off G Street and Olive Avenue on Friday prompted a response from firefighters of the county hazardous materials team.

No injuries were reported during the incident, and emergency personnel determined the chemical was ammonium hydroxide, a compound found in commercial cleaning agents, according to Acting Battalion Chief Mark Walker.

Four one-gallon jugs of the chemical were placed in back of the building, Walker said.

Emergency personnel were called by an employee of a landscaping company about 8:40 a.m. Friday, said Merced Fire Operations Chief Don Long. Firefighters said one person who came across the bottles was medically checked and released.

Merced Fire Department and Cal Fire personnel initially were not able to identify what was inside the jugs, and one of the bottles was inside of a plastic bag. Members of the hazardous materials team put on protective suits and took a sample of the chemical to determine its makeup. Walker said none of the chemical had spilled.

“It was a relatively minor incident, as far as hazardous materials go. But we do have to treat it in a very serious manner,” he said.

Walker said the proper way to dispose of such cleaning agents is to take them to the household hazardous waste disposal area at the Merced County Landfill located on North Highway 59. The landfill phone number is (209) 723-4481.

Riggs Ambulance also responded to the scene as a precaution.

Sun-Star City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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