Chemical health and safety news from the past few weeks:
- Mark at Chemistry Blog discussed his efforts to give local students work experience in labs by battling health and safety forms that say “Use of chemicals in any process is prohibited for young persons.”
- AIChE’s December issue of the Process Safety Beacon is on good housekeeping practices: “A clean plant is a safer plant!”
- After an explosives-laden bunker exploded in October at Louisiana’s Camp Minden, Louisiana State Police has found six million pounds of illegally and improperly stored explosives on the site
- The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation board is planning to drop its investigation into a combustible dust incident two years ago that killed three metals recycling workers at AL Solutions. “It fits into the broader problem with the lack of dust regulation in the United States,” CSB managing director Daniel Horowitz told the West Virginia Gazette. “I’m not sure how much impact one additional case has on that overall picture.”
- Louisiana Bucket Brigade reports on 2011 refinery accidents: “The good news is that in 2011 there were 53 fewer reported refinery accidents in Louisiana than there were in 2010. The bad news is that the 301 refinery accidents reported to the state in 2011 released nearly 50,000 pounds more air pollutants and nearly 1 million gallons more contaminants to soil and water than did the 354 accidents reported in 2010”
Continuing the rash of school incidents:
- A Florida chemistry teacher told students “to bring to class an item representing an element of the periodic table. Some brought aluminum foil, salt and water. But some brought sodium, lithium and even mercury.” Enter hazmat teams.
- A combination of potassium chloride, sodium chloride, sodium iodide, and benzoic acid led to a chemical release and emergency response at a high school in Connecticut; four students and a teacher were evaluated and released by the school nurse
- 27 g ammonium chloride + water + a hot plate left on = a “billowing fog” in a science lab at a New York high school; 16 students and one adult were treated at local hospitals
- A “regular experiment” that involved a mixture of sodium and water (?!) released enough smoke to set off fire alarms at a high school in Texas
- A chemical fire in a science classroom led to the evacuation of an Iowa high school
Fires and explosions:
Fuel fires aside, none turned up that seemed directly related to chemical use.
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- One worker died and another was injured at a Valero refinery in Tennessee when a sight window shattered in a production line, releasing a mixture of propane and hydrofluoric acid
- A water treatment worker in
AlbertaSaskatchewan received minor burns to his face when a sodium hydroxide line was punctured Also inIn Alberta, hydrochloric acid leaked from two storage tanks
- A lab worker at Caltech got “a few drops” of hydrochloric acid between his gloves and lab coat; the area was washed and he was evaluated at a local hospital
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.