Chemical health and safety news from the past couple of weeks.
First up, on the West Fertilizer explosion in Texas:
- The Chemical Safety Board launched a Facebook page for its investigation into the West Fertilizer explosion
- Sustained Outrage posted about various familiar issues surrounding the disaster
- At a Texas House committee hearing, many agencies
many agenciessaid “not my job” regarding lack of oversight and allowing large quantities of ammonium nitrate to be stored near a residential area
- And the Center for Public Integrity reported on concerns about the pace of CSB investigations
- In honor of Workers’ Memorial Day, the National Council for Occupational Safety & Health released “Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities” and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention devoted its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report to worker concerns.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its final count of fatal work injuries in 2011: 4,693, “the third lowest annual total since the fatal injury census was first conducted in 1992.” That’s 3.5 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
- The Berkeley Science Review published a long article on the lab safety changes in the University of California system in the wake of Sheri Sangji’s death
- The May issue of the Process Safety Beacon looks at “Pressure relief valve bonnets–to plug or not to plug?“
- A Florida high school student experimented with combinging aluminum foil and toilet bowl cleaner in a water bottle on campus before school. She subsequently was expelled from school and charged with possessing and discharging weapons and a destructive device on school grounds. Yes, gas pressure built up in the bottle so it exploded, but really, it seems ridiculous to expel a student for this. From all reports, she was just curious and didn’t intend to harm anyone.
- Janssen chemist Ramineh Behbehanian, on the other hand, perhaps did want to harm people by putting rubbing alcohol-contaminated orange juice onto the shelves of a San Jose, Calif., Starbucks. An alert customer saw her do it.
- Norway orders BP safety review after leak
- The Las Vegas Sun looked back at a 1988 explosion at ammonium perchlorate manufacturer Pacific Engineering Production Co. of Nevada that killed two people and injured more than 300 (C&EN archive story here, paywall-free link!
coming), and explored what hazardous materials plants are in the area today
- And WSYR in New York looked back at a fire from a flame test demonstration that left a teacher and three students badly burned
- U.K. authorities fined SAFC Hitech $190,000 for a 2012 incident in which trimethylindium caught fire and badly burned one worker
Fires and explosions:
- Three workers were killed in an explosion in a fireworks factory in India
- Also in India, and explosion and fire from some sort of chemical transfer at Ganesh Plasto injured one
- A fire at a Formosa Plastics plant in Texas involved ethylene and injured at least nine people (another story says a dozen)
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- One worker died and six others were treated for exposure after breathing hydrogen sulfide fumes while cleaning pipes at a wastewater treatment plant at the Port of Tampa, in Florida
- Something “in the ‘cyanide’ family” spilled at metal finisher Kocour in Illinois, sending one person for medical treatment
- Phenol spilled at a medical clinic in Iowa, sending 13 people to two local hospitals, and also at a U.K. high school
- Hydrogen peroxide leaked from equipment at the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering in New York
- Chemicals stored by a deceased fireworks enthusiast in a residential shed led to the evacuation of 49 neighboring houses while the bomb squad investigated
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.