Updated March 15, 5:45 p.m. Multiple GW buildings were evacuated Saturday night after “possibly a few hundred gallons” of heating oil leaked from underground tanks into the basement of Lisner Hall, a University spokeswoman said.
University spokeswoman Tracy Schario said the heating oil came from two underground tanks adjacent to Lisner Hall, each able to hold 6,000 gallons. Schario said someone reported an odor to the University Police Department at about 8:30 p.m. UPD evacuated the building and contacted the D.C. Fire Department. The odor was still perceptible in the area for much of the evening.
The incident elicited a large emergency response, including more than a dozen DCFD units. Among them were a hazardous materials team and at least four fire chiefs. Schario said a member of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s staff was on scene, as was John Petrie, GW’s assistant vice president for Public Safety and Emergency Management. DCFD cleared the area shortly after 11 p.m., once the spill was believed to be contained.
She said about 60 people were evacuated from the Law School complex, which includes Bell, Lisner, Stuart and Stockton halls, and the law library. While the rest of GW just started Spring Break, the Law School is currently in session. Schario said Sunday the complex reopened after cleanup efforts early Sunday, but had no new information.
Schario said late Saturday there was no indication what caused the leak. “We don’t know whether it was a spill or a leak,” she said. “We’re classifying it as a heating oil fuel spill.”
The environmental impact will be part of the assessment, she said Saturday, noting that the tanks were underground. The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs were notified of the incident.
There were no injuries reported. A DCFD spokesperson was unavailable for comment.