Chemical health and safety news from the past week:
- The University of California is hosting a webinar on Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions. Bob Hill, chair of the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety Safety Culture Task Force, will be presenting. It’s on Thursday, October 25, 2012, starting at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern. (If anyone wants to attend and recap in a blog post, I’d welcome the contribution! I will be at C&EN’s annual Advisory Board meeting.)
- Navy’s Treasure Island, Calif., radiation report found wanting: “Problems began not long after the Navy released an earlier 2006 report about the history of radioactive material on the island. It suggested that, unlike highly contaminated former bases such as the Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard, the Treasure Island Naval Shipyard was relatively clean. Soon afterward, cleanup workers began finding dozens of encrusted disks of radium-226 buried in the soil in unexpected places. They dug trenches to check for further radioactivity, and found readings down as deep as the water level of the San Francisco Bay.”
- OSHA cited Wisconsin’s Fontarome Chemical and proposed fines of $51,800 for process safety management failures and other safety violations following an April fire at the company’s pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. The agency also cited Cleveland Tank & Supply and proposed fines of $72,800 for “failing to assess workers’ exposure to hexavalent chromium” and other health and safety violations.
- Jennifer Aniston signs on to promote Robert Langer‘s hair care company, gets photographed in a lab without eye protection or a lab coat. On the one hand, it’s a lab. On the other, she’s there to see hair care products. (via @stephaniekays)
Fires and explosions:
- Workers “were mixing newspaper ink in a vat when a carbon compound apparently ignited … sparking an explosion and a fire in the building’s ductwork” at an ink manufacturing plant in New Jersey; one worker was sent to the hospital, others were treated at the scene
- Bomb technicians blew up an “old crate of ether” at the Napa County, Calif., fairgrounds: “The ether was apparently stashed in about 1957 as part of a Civil Defense program that would have turned the fairgrounds into a 200-bed hospital in the case of an emergency, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The ether was stored in 96 4-ounce bottles, including one that was left open, leaving the material inside in a crystallized form.”
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- Eight tons of hydrofluoric acid spilled at a Hube Global plant in South Korea; as of Oct. 8 five workers had died and more than 3,000 people were injured. The South Korean government declared it a “special disaster zone.”
- A hydrogen sulfide leak at a Eurofins Environmental Testing laboratory in the U.K. sent nine people to the hospital
- Possible consequence of drinking a liquid nitrogen cocktail: Losing part of your stomach, as happened to a UK teenager
- I don’t usually cover personal attacks but this is pretty horrific: There was a fight in a chemistry lab at Australia’s University of New South Wales. One student allegedly threw sulfuric acid in another’s face and then attacked him with a hammer. The victim is now in a burn unit in an induced coma. Our thoughts are with him and his family.
Not covered (usually): meth labs; ammonia leaks; incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals; transportation spills; things that happen at recycling centers (dispose of your waste properly, people!); and fires from oil, natural gas, or other fuels.