Students were evacuated due to the presence of sodium cyanide on Friday, Oct. 12 from the Foster Mods, which houses 177 students. A hazmat team responded to the scene along with BEMCo, Brandeis PD, Department of Community Living, Waltham PD, Waltham fire trucks, Cataldo ambulances and helicopters.
At 2:01 p.m. Providence Citywide, a fire services account, tweeted, “Hazmat incident Waltham, MA – 415 south St – Tier 1 response to Brandeis University for possible sodium cyanide.”
As of 5:23 p.m., in an email to the student body, Vice President of Communications James Gray wrote that “the substance has been removed and there is no danger to the community.” No arrests were made related to the sodium cyanide, and Waltham Police do not anticipate making any arrests. The university has not commented on how the sodium cyanide was discovered or why it was in a Mod.
According to the email from Gray, there were no injuries related to the sodium cyanide. At the entrance to Gosman, about 15 BEMCo personnel remained on call until 5 p.m. BEMCo staff blocked cars from entering the Mods, starting at the entrance to Gosman. Students were also restricted from entering the Mods through the steps on South Street between the time of evacuation and 5 p.m.
BEMCo removed roadblocks around 4 p.m. and emergency vehicles began to leave. Students were advised to return to the Mods at 5:15 p.m. A fire truck and police cruiser remained parked near the lower Mods until 6 p.m. The university would not confirm which Mod the substance was found in.
The Brandeis Hoot spoke to a student who had been evacuated from their residences. Allan Zelaya ’19, a resident of the Mods, told The Hoot, “I was actually in my room when I heard outside the window; there were like six firemen walking by. They were saying, ‘Should we evacuate the building?’ Five minutes later the fire alarm goes on.” Students were told to head to Gosman after leaving the mods.
The athletics center remained open, though Linsey was closed while the emergency vehicles responded to the Mods. Games and competitions were not cancelled, despite the proximity of the Mods to the athletics center.