The company took immediate measurements and determined that there was no health hazard, DiNapoli said. The Palo Alto Fire Department was not notified of the incident because "we saw no need to," DiNapoli said.
Not everyone agreed with that assessment.
Mark Thompson, who was installing solar panels on a roof in the Barron Park neighborhood, said Monday he nearly fainted from the smell and still feels dizzy and sore in his throat.
"I was literally crawling off the roof gasping for air," he said.
Dan Harrison, who lives next door to where Thompson worked, said CPI should have notified the neighborhood. He was walking his dog when they both noticed the fumes.
"It was just such an intense smell, really overwhelming, like putting your face up to a bowl of chlorine," he said. "My dog actually started sneezing."
DiNapoli declined to name the chemical that leaked. But Jeff Dean, a resident of the adjacent Barron Park neighborhood, claimed the fumes were from nitric acid.
Fire Chief Nick Marinaro said this week he will launch "a full-fledged haz-mat (hazardous materials) investigation."
Though the leak didn't violate federal or other laws as a reportable incident, it may have violated a city policy for when such leaks should be reported. The policy states the fire department should be notified whenever a hazardous material breaks through secondary containment, as it did in this case.
The safety threshold for nitric-acid fumes is 100 parts per million, and the reportable level is 50 parts per million, Marinaro said. CPI told the fire department that fumes were measured at 1 part per million.
"They should have called us" even if the safety or reportable threshold wasn't reached, Marinaro said. "We could have gotten word out to the neighborhood" that there was no danger.
CPI's DiNapoli said the company will meet with Barron Park residents this week to discuss the leak.
CPI manufactures components used to generate, amplify and transmit high-power/high-frequency microwave and radio frequency signals.
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