Hazardous Materials Incident at Joshua Tree National Park Headquarters

posted Mar 22, 2012, 9:13 AM by JTCA Contact

The administrative headquarters for Joshua Tree National Park was closed Wednesday afternoon in response to an apparent hazardous materials incident. A number of National Park Service administrative workers reported symptoms of skin irritation, respiratory distress, nausea, and eye irritation after working in the park’s mailroom. The building, located at 74485 National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms, was evacuated and local Hazardous Materials (HazMat) teams were called to the scene. Primary suspicion fell on a package that had been delivered to the park by commercial carrier earlier in the day.

Emergency units responding to the incident included National Park Service rangers, Combat Center Fire Hazardous Materials Unit, Twentynine Palms Fire, and Morongo Basin EMS. Acting Chief Ranger Jeff Ohlfs of the National Park Service and Chief Jim Thompson of Twentynine Palms Fire served as co-Incident Commanders. Eleven park workers were treated under decontamination procedures and given a field assessment by EMS personnel.

The Oasis Visitor Center was closed to the public at 4 p.m. to assist emergency workers with the decontamination and clean-up process. No park visitors were exposed to any contamination during the incident.

HazMat workers were not able to determine the nature of the material that caused the sudden onset of symptoms experienced by the park workers. The source of the contamination is still under investigation by local and federal agencies.

For further information about the incident contact Twentynine Palms Fire at 760-219-5575.