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Spilled nitric acid forced evacuation

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By Vicky Gits

A hazardous chemical spill at a home in a residential area of Evergreen on Monday evening turned out to be nitric acid that had been stored in a keg-size container.

Authorities found two kegs and some 28 drums, most of which were empty, that had been piling up under some trees since the mid-‘60s.

Someone from the home was cleaning up the area about 5 p.m. Monday when one of the barrels accidentally tipped, releasing a sludgy substance that generated a small cloud of yellow smoke, said Evergreen Fire Chief Garry DeJong.

Eight houses were evacuated in the vicinity of the home of David Chenoweth, 4796 Lemaster Drive, until about 9 p.m., while West Metro and Arvada haz-mat teams investigated the situation. The material was analyzed on site and later determined to be nitric acid, a chemical used to clean mechanical equipment or strip furniture.

A woman who identified herself on the phone as Chenoweth’s wife said her husband had never used the chemical for any purpose and did not know how it got there. She called 911 to report the spill.

A private company has been sent to take care of cleanup.