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Friday chemical safety round-up

Chemical health and safety news from the past week:

Fires and explosions:

  • A fire at a Chinese chemical plant may have involved acetylene; no injuries were reported
  • Spilled nail polish remover + a candle led to a fire at a beauty salon in Scotland
  • A combination of sulfuric, nitric, and hydrochloric acids caused some sort of explosion at the University of Queensland; several stories make it sound like the incident happened at a loading dock, one mentions a “cupboard”
  • For the headdesk file: hazmat teams responded to a smoking ashtray in Edmonton, Canada:

    A man saw smoke coming from an ashtray early today. That’s not unusual by itself but there seemed to be more smoke than usual. The man, now alarmed, looked at the warning printed on his pack of cigarettes. There in black and white under toxic ingredients it listed Hydrogen Cyanide. EMS and Fire were alerted and responded. The mere mention of Hydrogen Cyanide raised concern and a HAZMAT unit was added to the call. When the smoke cleared from the ashtray, the call was rapidly downgraded. All’s well that ends well.

Leaks, spills, and other exposures:

  • A barge worker died after mysteriously falling into a tank of lignin in Washington Oregon: “Two workers on the barge had walked past the tank when one of them suddenly noticed the other was missing. He then saw that an emergency line that had been tied to the other worker was leading down into the tank.” It took emergency workers 45 minutes to drain the tank and recover the body. (What was the emergency line for?)
  • 250 metric tons of hot liquid tar pitch, used in aluminum production, spilled at an Australian port; the port shut down and 10,000 nearby residents had to shelter in place
  • Two workers suffered nitric acid burns at USBid, which sells hard-to-find semiconductors and electronic parts in Florida; the nitric acid was reportedly being used to clean parts
  • A British high school student dropped a container of bromine; two students and two teachers were evaluated for exposure

Not covered: meth labs; ammonia leaks; incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals; transportation spills; and fires from oil, natural gas, or other fuels.

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