The Northwest Florida Daily News reported that an explosion occurred on Eglin Air Force Base in McKinley Climatic Lab shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday,
On its official Facebook page, a base public information officer initially said that the source of the smoke has been identified as methyl chloride. The base also confirmed that the explosion did not cause significant injuries.
An hour later, the same Facebook page contradicted its earlier post and state that it can not be established yet that methyl chloride was the source of the smoke. It clarified only that the incident happened in close proximity to the chemical.
The smoke has been put out. The earlier instruction for people near the base to shelter and turn off their air conditioners has also been lifted.
Area hospitals and clinics near the base have not reported any person seeking treatment as a result of the explosion.
Methyl chloride has been listed by the CDC as a chemical that can be harmful in high concentrations. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also gives out the piece of advice that the most protective respirators should be worn for methyl chloride at any detectable concentration in compliance with its carcinogen policy.
The EPA says that exposure to high levels of methyl chloride can have serious effects on the nervous system, and can result to convulsions, and even coma. Other effects of exposure to methyl chloride include dizziness, blurry or double vision, fatigue, personality changes, confusion, tremor and vomiting. Such symptoms may develop after a few hours following exposure and may persist for months.
One Twitter user who may be working in the base posted: “Bad fire on Eglin. Forced evacuation from my building and almost choked getting to my car.”
The incident is still under investigation to determine the cause.