EPA to require chemical companies to consider inherently safer technologies
Mar02

EPA to require chemical companies to consider inherently safer technologies

“Chemical companies and refineries would have to consider inherently safer technologies and, in some cases, undergo third-party, independent safety audits under a new Environmental Protection Agency proposal,” writes Jeff Johnson at C&EN this week. EPA’s proposal would, for the first time, require a subsection of companies, including refiners and chemical makers, to consider using alternative, safer technologies as they regularly update their [risk management plans], which is required at least every five years. Consideration is all that would be required; implementation of safer technologies would not be, stresses Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for land and emergency management. EPA would have access to a company’s assessment of safer technologies but the public would not, Stanislaus tells C&EN. … Also, the proposal would require companies that have chemical accidents to hire an independent third party to conduct compulsory safety audits, rather doing these audits themselves, as they do now, says Stanislaus. And after an accident or a near-miss incident, companies would have to conduct root-cause analyses and prepare incident reports for EPA. The story notes that EPA’s proposal comes out of a re-examination of EPA regulations ordered by President Barack Obama following a 2013 ammonium nitrate explosion at West Fertilizer that killed 15 people. But facilites such as West won’t be covered by the regulation because EPA is not adding ammonium nitrate to its risk management plan...

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OPRD’s safety notables from the literature
Feb24

OPRD’s safety notables from the literature

Organic Process Research & Development has just released its 13th annual compilation of safety issues from scientific literature. It covers: Accidents Fire and Explosion Disasters in Aftermath of Great East Japan Earthquake Lab Explosion during Distillation of Propargyl Thiocyanate Lessons Learned from Process Safety Incidents Zinc Plant Explosion Methyl Mercaptan Accident Tianjin Blast Thermal Hazard Evaluations Decoupling Heat Absorption and Generation from Azobis(isobutyronitrile) Decomposition Ammonium Nitrate Thermal Decomposition with Additives Thermal Hazard Assessment for Synthesis of 3-Methylpyridine-N-oxide Analysis of Safety and Kinetic Parameters for Organic Peroxide Decomposition Prediction of Self-Accelerating Decomposition Temperature for Organic Peroxides Math Methods for Application of Experimental Adiabatic Data Vent Sizing of Cumene Hydroperoxide System under Fire Scenario Differential Scanning Calorimetry Analysis of Liquid Sodium-Silica Reaction Beyond the Phi Factor Thermal Stability of Propylene Oxide Hazard Assessment Methodology Systems Theoretic Accident Modeling and Processes (STAMP)—Holistic System Safety Approach or Another Risk Model? Decisions and Decision Support for Major Accident Prevention in Industry Process Safety Management for Managing Contractors in Process Plant Laboratory Safety Culture What Does “Safe” Look and Feel Like? Methods for Identifying Errors in Chemical Process Development and Design Methods and Models in Process Safety and Risk Management: Past, Present and Future Chemical Reactivity in PHA Scale-up and Scalable Reaction Conditions Application of Safety by Design Scale-up of Epoxide Ring-Opening Scale-up of Alkoxyamines Scale-up of Processes using DMSO Alternative Reagents Trifluoromethylation with Sodium Trifluoromethanesulfinate Iodonium Ylides as Safe Carbene Precursors Improved Method for Generation of Ohira–Bestmann Reagent Nonafluorobutanesulfonyl Azide as a Shelf Stable Oxidant Additional Trifluoromethylation with Sodium Trifluoromethanesulfinate Deoxyfluorination of Phenols with PhenoFluorMix New Reagent for Synthesis of CF3-Substituted Arenes and Heteroarenes A New Deoxyfluorination Reagent Dust Hazards Influence of Inert Materials on Flammable Dust Self-Ignition Hazard Evaluation Method for Dust Collector Explosions Dust Explosions in Process...

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Overheated nitrocellulose ignited to set off Tianjin explosion
Feb09

Overheated nitrocellulose ignited to set off Tianjin explosion

Chinese officials released on Feb. 5 a report into a 2015 explosion at a hazardous materials warehouse in Tianjin that killed 165 people. C&EN’s Jean-François Tremblay reports: The immediate cause of the accident was the spontaneous ignition of overly dry nitrocellulose stored in a container that overheated, according to the report, issued on Feb. 5. Wetting agents inside the container had evaporated in the summer heat, investigators found. Flames from that initial fire reached nearby ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which exploded. … Investigators found that Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics, the operator of the warehouse, illegally stored hazardous materials and that its “safety management procedures were inept.” It also assigned varying degrees of blame to 74 government officials from agencies at the municipal, provincial, and national levels. Some officials, investigators found, were guilty of “taking bribes and abusing power.” To prevent a similar catastrophe, investigators issued a list of recommendations, including the creation of a national system for monitoring hazardous chemicals storage. They also recommended that firefighters be better equipped. First responders accounted for 110 of the...

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CSB approves final report on West Fertilizer explosion
Feb02

CSB approves final report on West Fertilizer explosion

The U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) on Jan. 28 approved its final report on the 2013 ammonium nitrate fertilizer explosion in West, Texas, that killed fifteen people and injured hundreds of others. CSB found that key factors that led to the severity of the accident were: Poor hazard awareness Proximity of the facility to nearby homes and businesses Inadequate emergency planning Limited regulatory oversight Here’s CSB’s video about the incident: CSB issued a total of 19 recommendations relating to the explosion, to the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, International Code Council (responsible for the International Fire Code), Federal Emergency Management Agency, Texas Commission on Fire Protection, State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Services, Texas Department of Insurance, West Volunteer Fire Department, and El Dorado Chemical...

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Comparing safety culture in industry to academia
Jan21

Comparing safety culture in industry to academia

Chemjobber had a guest post last week by Alex Goldberg, who started working as a pharmaceutical process chemist six months ago. He says, in part: And we have regular meetings about safety: we discuss near-misses and incidents and accidents (and we learn about the differences between them in safety training) that occurred in the previous month. And absolutely everyone wears his or her labcoat and safety glasses. Reflecting back on my academic training, I think about what universities can do to make safety an ongoing conversation, not just an onboarding exercise or an annual seminar. If we take long-hours and limited resources as a given in academic Chemistry departments — a topic which merits another discussion entirely — what can be done to build a culture of safety around those constraints? What does your lab and department do to accomplish this goal? Examples,...

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Trimethylaluminum explosion at Dow facility in Massachusetts
Jan08

Trimethylaluminum explosion at Dow facility in Massachusetts

On Thursday, five people were injured when a reaction between trimethylaluminum and water caused an explosion in a lab at Dow Chemical’s electronic materials facility in North Andover, Mass., Massachusetts Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said at a press briefing. Four of the injured were taken to a local hospital, then three of them were transferred to Boston hospitals. The injuries were burns and shrapnel wounds, Coan said. The explosion occurred around 2:20 pm. Emergency responders spent the rest of the day securing the scene and ensuring it would be safe for investigators. There was significant damage to the lab where the explosion occurred–Coan said that some windows were blown out and that the HVAC system, hoods, ceiling panels, and lighting were damaged. Local news reports say that people living adjacent to the plant felt the explosion. The building, however is structurally sound and should be reoccupied once investigators are finished, Coan said. A trimethylindium explosion at the same site in 2013 resulted in the death of production operator Carlos A. Amaral, 51. Dow concluded that in that incident: • An employee sustained injuries as a result of the overpressure of a small stainless steel manufacturing vessel during an operation associated with a Trimethylindium (TMI) manufacturing batch. • An undesired and unexpected reactive chemical event occurred within the vessel as the employee was transporting the vessel from the glove box to the next manufacturing unit for further processing. • The overpressure resulted in a release of reacted and unreacted materials and a fire. The most highly probable cause of the unplanned event was the ingress of cleaning liquid from the cavity space of the ball valve into the crude TMI. Due to the nature of the event, it is impossible to completely validate this conclusion. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration initially fined Dow $28,000, then settled for $17,500. The citations included one serious one for failing “to ensure reactor pots were adequately designed and inspected to prevent or minimize chemical explosions.” Fire marshal Coan said that yesterday’s incident was “much different” from the 2013 one, although I was watching the press briefings online and couldn’t ask specifically what he thinks the difference was other than trimethylindium versus trimethylaluminum. Hopefully more information will come out once investigators can get into the lab and finish interviewing the people involved. There were two press briefings yesterday with the fire marshal, one at 6 pm and the other at 10 pm Eastern. A Boston Globe reporter tweeted these videos from that the 10 pm briefing. State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan pic.twitter.com/WbtCdsr140 — Astead Wesley (@AsteadWH) January 8, 2016 Work to be...

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