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CSB, Formosa, and hazardous waste

A drum is poised to enter the kiln at Heritage-WTI. (Credit: Heritage-WTI)

I’ve got a few things to flag from the magazine, both new and old. From this week’s issue:

Jeff Johnson checked in with the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board and has a story on Safety Board Backlog Remains: Chemical safety board chairman lays out plans, stakeholders offer strong support and concerns.

And Jean-François Tremblay wrote about the efforts of Formosa Petrochemical’s new president to improve the infrastructure and safety culture at the company’s Mailiao petrochemical complex in Taiwan: Formosa Tries To Mend.

Regular readers of the Safety Zone’s Friday news round-ups will recall that Ohio hazardous waste incinerator Heritage-WTI had a fatal accident back in December. According to reports, two workers, Thomas Bailey and John Bechak, were separating a barrel containing “cutting oil, hafnium, niobium, water and zirconium” when something caused a flash fire. Both workers were burned and Bailey died of his injuries.

The CSB is not investigating, but it issued a statement last week with a reminder of its recommendations from past incidents at hazardous waste processing facilities: for the Environmental Technology Council to develop guidelines for such facilities and petition the National Fire Protection Association to issue standards.

I interviewed people at Heritage-WTI for an article I did a couple of years ago on Where Lab Waste Goes. From the story:

To lab workers, identifying the waste can seem like a burden. After all, there are plenty of questions that need to be answered: Does the label need a chemical name or common name? Do I really need to know everything that might be in the bottle and the exact concentrations? Is the waste flammable, corrosive, air or water reactive, toxic, an oxidizer, or explosive?

A burden it might be, but accurate waste identification is critical to ensure that the people who handle the waste down the line don’t get hurt, whether it’s the person at your institution who packs the waste for transport, the driver who takes it away, or the people who handle it at an incinerator.

The same applies to household hazardous waste.  I see stories nearly every week about incidents at local waste facilities. Please take the time to find out what your community requires and follow through appropriately. Personally, I’ll be taking a collection of dead batteries and fluorescent bulbs to my county’s facility sometime in the next few weeks.

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