Q&D Construction, the contractors hired by the city of Sparks to make improvements to the garage, quickly poured sand on the spill before it ran down the storm drain. Some of the materials did make it to the drain and entered the city’s sewage system.
The lid of the tank that tipped over popped off and allowed two-thirds of the material to spill, officials reported.
Firefighters and police were called to the scene, along with environmental specialists, said Mike Bergamini, an environmental control technician for the city.
“Right now, we’re trying to decide how to handle the material because it’s hazardous waste,” Bergamini said Monday morning.
Firefighters and environmental specialists were not sure how to dispose of the malodorous sand and materials that remained in clumps on the parking lot concrete, Bergamini said. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection was expected to be notified, he said.
First responders to the scene closed much of what was left open of the bottom story of C Street garage. Most all of the garage is already closed due to the renovation.
By the end of the work day, most of the sand had been removed, though heavy machinery continued to work to rid the spill area of the materials.
The polymer resin, while still irritating to inhale at 10 a.m., had mostly evaporated but was still a concern, Bergamini said.
According to information about the resin, the hazardous material can be toxic when inhaled.
“When epoxy fumes are inhaled, they can affect the nose, throat, and lungs. Most symptoms from the inhalation of epoxy involve inflammation and therefore irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs. Repetitive and high amounts of exposure to these fumes can result in sensitization and asthma,” according to Sentry Air Systems. “When dust from partially cured epoxy is inhaled, the particles become trapped in the mucus lining of the respiratory system and can cause serious health problems. According to West System, a leading epoxy manufacturer, this dust should never be inhaled.”
Reconstruction on the city’s free parking garage began March 19 in an effort to rehabilitate the 25-year-old structure and extend its life. Parking was limited to the first floor at that time.
The $574,000 project was expected to take two months to complete.
A report in 2008 showed that the service life of the garage would be cut short if drainage issues were not corrected in the center of the concrete structure.
The garage, built in 1987, is mainly used by local merchants and by workers, leaving it mostly empty during the week. It fills up, however, during event season when the city hosts visitors during Hot August Nights, the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, Fourth of July firework shows and other events, according to city spokesman Adam Mayberry.