Friday chemical safety round-up

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:

Fires and explosions:
Fuel fires aside, none turned up that seemed directly related to chemical use.

Leaks, spills, and other exposures:

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.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. Just for some pedantry: the sodium hydroxide leak happened in Saskatchewan not Alberta.

  2. Not only that, but I left out two links. Aggregator fail. Hopefully I’ve fixed everything now!

  3. And then I royally messed it up. Hopefully I’ve REALLY fixed everything now!

  4. I’m surprised that ammonium chloride decomposing on a hot plate would cause a problem if it was in a fume hood (assuming the hood was working properly and the hot plate was not near the hood sash). I think the best line is in the story about the Caltech lab worker burned by HCl -“From a chemical standpoint, it’s equivalent to cooking food,”

  5. The lab at Caltech where the HCl accident occured is an electrical engineering department. At least no chemists shocked themselves!

  6. “Students punished for bringing the type of elements that get people interested in chemistry” No wonder science education is on the decline in North America.