Friday chemical safety round-up

Chemical health and safety news from the past week:

Fires and explosions:

  • Four people are missing and nine others were injured in a nitroglycerin explosion at a plant in the Czech Republic
  • Fireworks unit blast kills two in India, four others were seriously injured–“The accident occurred when the factory foreman went into the storage room where the chemicals were stored and opened the sacks to distribute it to the workers to make the pieces of fireworks, police said.”
  • An explosion in a pesticide plant in Guangxi, China, injured three (this from a somewhat morbid feature at shanghaiist titled “Today in Explosions”)
  • Agilent worker burned severely in flash explosion at Santa Rosa facility in California:

    [Patrick Colbus, 45,] was alone in the ground-floor lab in the two-story Building 1 at about 10:30 a.m. when the explosion rocked the structure. He had been cleaning a molecular beam epitaxy device, a large piece of equipment used for producing coatings on integrated circuits, officials said.

    A combination of substancess, including red and white phosphorous, gallium, aluminum powder and arsenic were involved in the flash explosion that severely burned Colbus’ face, head and torso, said Mark Basque, a battalion chief for the Santa Rosa Fire Department. The chemicals are integral to the production of the advanced circuits.

    “Something caused them to ignite and explode, but it’s unknown if it was a result of a chemical interaction or a mechanical failure,” Basque said.

    The explosion blasted holes in at least one wall, cracked glass, overturned equipment and left a burn mark where the flash occurred, Basque said.

    Colbus was reportedly an experienced worker and as of Thursday was in critical condition in the hospital; Cal/OSHA is investigating.

  • A chemical fire at Aldrich Chemical in Wisconsin drew 80 firefighters from six departments, four of whom suffered minor chemical exposure; Aldrich provided “a dry chemical agent” to help fight the fire
  • Rainwater leaking into a chemical storate room at Coats North America in North Carolina reacted with sodium hydrosulfite, leading to the evacuation of 150 workers
  • Grape seed oil blamed for fire at Swindon College beauty training salons in the U.K.–the theory is that it absorbed into towels, heated in the dryer, oxidized and ignited the towels

Leaks, spills, and other exposures:

Left out: meth labs, ammonia leaks, pool chemical incidents

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. These are still great, Jyllian.

  2. Really sorry to hear about the firework blast that killed two people in India, My friend almost died in a firework blast accident, thankfully he was ok, but we were all really concerned for him.