East Hawaii News

Sulfur Smell at Hilo Bank Prompts HazMat Visit

January 29, 2013, 10:34 AM HST
* Updated January 29, 10:35 AM
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A Hawaii Fire Department hazardous materials team was called to the Waiakea Center near Wal-Mart this morning after employees at the Territorial Savings Bank reported a strong sulfur smell at the business.

Bank Manager Collins Tomei told Big Island Now that he first noticed the odor when he arrived for work shortly after 8 a.m. He called the fire department after a search of the bank failed to turn up a source for the smell.

The parking lot of the Waiakea Center was cleared during the fire department's investigation. Photo by Dave Smith.

The parking lot of the Waiakea Center was cleared during the fire department’s investigation. Photo by Dave Smith.

A fire truck, ambulance and the HazMat truck arrived at the scene at around 9 a.m. Nearby businesses, which include a hair salon and food court, were evacuated and a perimeter was set up in the center’s parking lot.

Two members of the HazMat team equipped with respirators and air analyzers first checked around the bank’s doors and then entered the building for a search that lasted roughly five minutes.

Following a discussion with fire officials, Tomei said that the HazMat team found no definitive source for the fumes.

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The team then opened the bank’s doors and set up fans to ventilate the offices.

Firefighters prepare to ventilate the Territorial Savings Bank. Photo by Dave Smith.

Firefighters prepare to ventilate the Territorial Savings Bank. Photo by Dave Smith.

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Tomei said the only possible source he could think of for the sulfur fumes might be two uninterruptible power supplies, also known as UPS units, which are used to protect the bank’s computers. But Tomei said he believed the batteries used in those are the sealed type which he said were not likely to create such fumes.

He said none of the bank’s employees suffered injury other than “a little coughing and scratchy throats.”

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