Before we get into the news from the last couple of weeks, I can’t pass up a haiku posted on the ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety e-mail list last week by Harry J. Elston, editor of the Journal of Chemical Health & Safety:
Hoods for prevention
noxious vapors spewing forth
closed sash protection
Now on to our regularly scheduled linkfest:
- Chemjobber is happy he didn’t work in an ebola lab and dug up a story about an old drum of 4-trifluoromethylaniline and a quick escape through a fire door
- Gaussling discussed cyanide-based legislative voting machines
- 2020 Science covered new International Standards Organization standards on evaluating nanomaterial risks
- An editorial by J. Chem. Educ. editor Norbert J. Pienta said that “Without Risk there is Little Learning” and announced a new column on safety in collaboration with the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety
- Also from J. Chem. Educ.: Negligence Liability of K–12 Chemistry Teachers: The Need for Legal Balance and Responsible Action
- California launched an internal audit over a toxic waste facility on reservation land
- OSHA established a “National Emphasis Program” focused on protecting workers from chemical and physical hazards in the “primary metals industries,” which involve extracting and refining metals to make products such as nails, wires and cables, and piping.
- A Fresno, Calif., high school teacher is accused of helping students get high on chloroform and making/storing/detonating nitroglycerin in her classroom; video from bomb squad detonation of the nitroglycerin is here
- The UK Health & Safety Executive issued two “improvement notices” to the Institute for Animal Health for incidents involving containment of foot-and-mouth virus; HSE says “HSE issue notices to companies and individuals for breaches of health and safety law. The notice may involve one or more instances when the recipient has failed to comply with health and safety law – each one of these is called a “Breach”. If necessary, HSE may prosecute recipients for non-compliance with a notice.”
- China pushes Hon Hai Precision Industry and other Taiwan companies to strengthen safety measures; a fatal explosion at Hon Hai, aka Foxconn, maker of iPads and iPhones, was likely due to combustible dust in a polishing facility
- US compensation claims surge over chemical dumping in Korea, “This is largely attributed to Washington’s recent acknowledgement that even more veterans were exposed to Agent Orange or other toxic herbicides while serving in or near Korea’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).” It also sounds like there will be significant clean-up necessary of U.S. bases returned to South Korean control.
Fires and explosions:
- A Hoeganaes metal powder plant in Tennessee had its third fire of the year; two died from their injuries, making four deaths this year for the plant. CSB is investigating and its preliminary results show that a hydrogen gas leak led to an explosion that ignited iron dust.
- An explosion in a storage tank at a Chevron refinery in Wales killed four workers and seriously injured another
- A blast at a Shandong Baoyuan Chemical plant in China killed three and injured eight
- A fire at a Momentive Performance Materials plant that burned two workers in New York might have started as a hydrogen explosion
- A massive fire at Chemical Coatings in North Carolina when the plant was closed for the weekend caused nearby residents to evacuate; no reports yet on the cause
- Diborane exploded during a transfer from one cylinder to another at Voltaix in New Jersey
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- Two workers died at a Shintech PVC plant in Louisiana:
Sheriff’s Maj. Johnny Blanchard says investigators believe Tory Sanchez, a contract worker employed by Performance Contractors Inc., was overcome by fumes while descending a ladder into the container to retrieve tools. Blanchard says Shintech employee Tommy Rivet also went into the container, possibly to assist Sanchez, and also was overcome.
Plant manager David Wise told The Advocate the men likely suffocated in the oxygen-deficient container that was filled with nitrogen as part of the process to produce vinyl chloride.
- A shuttered crime lab in Detroit became a hazmat scene, with a street blocked off for parking or walking: “One room is reportedly filled with black mold and chemicals that, if spilled or combined, could reportedly become toxic and dangerous or even explosive.”
- 100 gallons of hydrochloric acid at Thornton Industries in Illinois; one worker was treated for skin contact
- Chlorine gas at a Tennessee sewer treatment plant forced the evacuation of nearby homes; the source was a 1,400-lb chlorine canister
- Hydrogen sulfide at a refinery in California
- A 55-gallon drum of phenol was punctured by a fork life at a trucking company in Ohio
- 500-800 mL of formaldehyde at a high school in Illinois; two workers were taken to hospital for evaluation
- On roads, railways, and shipyards: alpha-methylstyrene, hydraulic fluid, hydrochloric acid, plastisol
Not covered: meth labs, ammonia leaks, and incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals