BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A hazmat spill forced the evacuation of the St. Luke's Dialysis Center on Eighth Avenue in Bethlehem on Tuesday.
The situation was caused just after 7 a.m. by a broken pipe that spilled 200 to 300 gallons of bicarbonate dilaysate on the floor, fire officials said.
The dialysis center had just started operations when one of the employees noticed a substantial leak, officials said.
"There was two 500 gallon tanks that held an acid base for dialysis an acid concentrate and it had spilled onto the floor," said Lieutenant Michael Rampulla, Bethlehem Fire Department. "Piping had broken inside the wall and they are estimating a possible 200 to 300 gallon loss of product."
Bicarbonate dialysate is used during dialysis.
"There was some people being treated at the time. They were taken off of treatment and moved to another facility," said Rampulla.
After patients were moved, employees waited and watched outside while fire crews went in to neutralize the spill with sodium bicarbonate.
When they were done, hazmat crews came out and showered any trace of the spill from their suits.
Fire officials said a chemical contractor was brought in to clean up the neutralized spill inside, while Bethlehem Water and Sewer Resources was making sure the spill was totally contained to the building.
"We did check to make sure that it did not get into the drains. There was concerns that it may have gotten into the sewer drains. We did pull the man hole covers and check the sewer drains and readings came back normal," said Rampulla.
Water and Sewer Resources also checked the waste water treatment plant and we are told the readings came back normal.
The dialysis center is a partnership between St. Luke's and a company called DeVita, which operates the center.
A DeVita spokesman said the leak was due to a damaged fitting on the pipe.
The center is expected to reopen Wednesday.
Allentown, PA 18102