Chemical health and safety news from the past week:
- See Arr Oh wondered on Twitter: “Know that tangy smell that LAH / NaH give off? Is that oil volatiles, or trace H2 being formed from room moisture?” In the Pipeline readers gave their answers.
- Curious Wavefunction discussed the productive pairing of chemists and bad smells
- Chemjobber wondered whether a Radleys model wears steel-toed heels
- The February issue of AIChE’s Process Safety Beacon discusses equipment support. If you’re tempted to cut out a section of structural steel to make room for a valve, here’s a hint: Don’t do it.
- CSB will hold a public meeting on Feb. 7 in Louisville, KY, to release its final report on a 2011 fire and explosion at Carbide Industries (I don’t see this posted on the CSB website yet, but C&EN’s Jeff Johnson got it by e-mail) UPDATE: Here’s CSB’s press release about the meeting (pdf)
- The Charleston, W.Va., Gazette’s Sustained Outrage blog posted about the role of the White House Office of Management & Budget in environmental and worker safety regulations
- Cal/OSHA cited Chevron with 11 willful and 12 serious violations of California labor code following an Aug. 6, 2012 refinery fire, which CSB is investigating. The penalties are $963,200 Cal/OSHA citations page here). No workers were injured but thousands of nearby residents sought treatment for breathing problems. Chevron says it has paid $10 million in medical-compensation claims.
- If this doesn’t get tossed out of court, it’ll do a lot to discourage whistleblowers: Kentucky company sues coal miner who complained about safety problems. Was the mine actually unsafe? “Not long after Shemwell filed his discrimination complaint, MSHA officials tried to inspect the site where he’d been working. According to court documents, Armstrong chose to shut the site down rather than subject it to MSHA oversight, which management said would be too costly.”
Fires and explosions:
- Supposedly empty acetylene tanks exploded at an Air Liquide plant in Louisiana
- A propane tank exploded at a DuPont plant in Delaware
- Fire escaped a barbecue pit, spread through a field and across a street, and ignited a warehouse “packed wall-to-wall with palettes of fireworks” in Texas
- Cyclohexane overheated and ignited at a California high school
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- One of five workers who responded to a hydrofluoric acid spill at a Samsung semiconductor facility in South Korea didn’t wear full protective gear and died of exposure; Samsung so far was fined about $900 for not reporting the leak promptly to authorities
- In New Jersey, one AZ Electronic Materials employee suffered severe chemical burns to the face, eyes, and chest, while two colleagues were exposed when they transported the first to a decontamination room. The chemical was not identified.
- California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control spent two weeks dealing with 11,000 gallons of “acids and cyanide stored in 55-gallon drums and giant open vats
- Calcium carbide + water led to an evacuation of a science building at the University of Alaska, Anchorage
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.