Chemical health and safety news from the past week:
- Impossible explosions: How piping and shrubbery can turn vapor fires into detonations, by giving flames more surface area
- Chemjobber asked what is hexafluorine, an “active decontamination” solution for HF? (And in the comments: Does it work?)
- John at It’s the Rheo Thing seems to have experienced chemophobia from a grant reviewer. Is this the downside of adding a safety component to grant applications?
- Many of the slide decks from ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety presentations at the ACS meeting in San Diego are posted at dchas.org
- ACS has a professional education course on Laboratory Safety & Health in Boston from April 30 to May 2
- The April issue of AIChE’s Process Safety Beacon is out: Be sure you unload the right material to the right place!
- Recurring hydrofluoric acid leaks at Texas Citgo refinery draw Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation board attention: “CSB is concerned that refinery management is growing to accept water cannon use as a routine control for leaks, rather than seeing the cannons as the ‘last line of defense.’”
- CSB applauded AIChE’s work with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology to include reactive hazard awareness in chemical engineering curricula (in response to a runaway reaction at T2 Laboratories)
- OSHA is seeking applications for a grant program “to fund training for workers and employers in recognizing workplace hazards and control measures, and understanding their rights and responsibilities”
- And OSHA cited Magnablend for an October explosion in Texas: “seven serious violations, including insufficient ventilation, an inadequate sprinkler system, inadequate worker training and failure to conduct hazard assessments at the plant,” with a $45,000 fine
- 1962 disaster impelled stricter hazardous materials regulations: A truck loaded with organic peroxides caught fire and then exploded, killing four Connecticut firefighters. “Norwich Fire Marshal Kenneth Scandariato said that in the 1960s, there were certain chemicals known to be volatile, but the type of response needed in a situation like Van Tassel was not well-understood.”
Fires and explosions:
- An explosion at an Evonik plant in Germany killed two workers; the plant “produces cyclododecatriene, an intermediate used to make flame retardants, flavors, and fragrances.” My colleague Marc Reisch will have an updated story in Monday’s issue, but there’s no word yet on the cause.
- A fire at Washington’s Westport Shipyard started in “a machine that mixes fiberglass resin with a catalyst”
- A fire in a chemical drum at Bend Research in Oregon started when a filtering system malfunctioned, allowing vapor to build up to ignition concentration
- A spark likely set alight methyl ethyl ketone at Wise Alloys in Alabama, when workers were “doing routine maintenance in the coating line area”; four were injured (that linked worked when I wrote the post, then didn’t when I went to check it. I’m leaving it up in case it’s a temporary server problem)
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
ParaceticPeracetic acid spilled at a Sara Lee plant in Iowa (copied and pasted without thinking, other coverage says peracetic, thanks to Chemjobber for the heads up!)
- Hydrochloric acid spilled at Nevada biotech company Sierra Sciences
- A “green sheen in a storm drain” brought out a hazmat crew in California. “The sheen was caused by uranine, a dye used to trace the flow of water. Contractors had been using the substance to diagnose a drainage problem at a nearby building, but it wasn’t immediately clear how it ended up in the storm drain.”
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.
Updated to add some discussion of the chemophobic grant reviewer that happened on Twitter Saturday morning: