PARAMUS — What was supposed to be a routine drain cleaning at Bergen Pizza, located inside the Pitkin Education Center at Bergen Community College, resulted in what the college's president called a "localized chemical reaction" that prompted the closure of the building on Tuesday.

In a letter posted to Facebook, BCC President Eric M. Friedman said the cleaner used by a contractor reacted with trapped food and grease, and that four employees in close proximity inhaled the chemical reaction and had to be hospitalized.

An earlier message late Tuesday afternoon indicated that the Pitkin Education Center would be closed for "all classes, activities and operations" through the evening.

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Friedman said first responders for both Paramus and Bergen County performed a health and safety evaluation following the chemical reaction, which "quickly dissipated."

Those authorities deemed the building safe, and it was cleared to reopen Wednesday.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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