Report released on New York high school fire
Jun27

Report released on New York high school fire

The New York Special Commissioner of Investigation yesterday released its report regarding the Beacon High School fire last January. The fire was widely reported to involve the “rainbow” flame test experiment. And indeed it did. And, as many suspected, this is what happened: Pool continued that, as she lit each Petri dish, a different color flame appeared. When the flames died out, the students asked Poole to conduct the experiment again. Poole explained that, this time, after she added the nitrates to the Petri dish, she reached for the one gallon container of methanol to add to the Petri dish and, all of a sudden, a fire ball–like a blowtorch–erupted and shot across the room. Poole did not hear anything, but saw a white flame shoot across the room, adn and then Studnet Student A was on fire. I truly do not understand why so many teachers decide to pour an alcohol from a large container around open flames. For a safer way to do the experiment, soak wooden sticks in chloride solutions, then burn them in a Bunsen burner, as recommended by the National Science Teachers Association. People at the University of California, Davis, chemistry department have experimented with this as well to find an optimal procedure to produce vibrant colors. Their results aren’t published yet, but contact Debbie Decker for more information. (I’m traveling and without my laptop, so I had to retype the quote. Any typos or other errors in that quote are mine. Monday update: typos...

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Trial postponed in UC Davis explosives case
Jun17

Trial postponed in UC Davis explosives case

Former University of California, Davis, chemist David Snyder was headed to trial next month on explosives, hazardous waste, and firearms charges stemming from a 2013 explosion in his campus apartment. The trial has now been postponed to fall, with motions to be heard on Sept. 12, a “trial setting conference” on Oct. 3, and the trial to start on Oct....

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Friday chemical safety round up
Jan17

Friday chemical safety round up

Chemical health and safety news from the past few weeks: In January’s Process Safety Beacon, corrosion under insulation, “which occurs due to water under insulation or fireproofing” AIChE’s Spring Meeting and 10th Global Congress on Process Safety will be held in New Orleans at the end of March BioRAFT’s is hosting a seminar at the end of January on Student Involvement in Improving the Culture of Safety in Academic Laboratories, looks like in collaboration with the University of Minnesota The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board’s proposal for a new regulatory approach to refinery safety was derailed when two board members voted against the recommendation A California hazardous waste transporter was sentenced to serve 120 days in jail and three years’ probation on six felony charges of unlawful storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste; he was also fined $7,500 and ordered to pay $228,000 in restitution And BNSF Railway is to pay $140,000 for a 2012 spill of phenol, cresylic acid, and other corrosive chemicals near the port of Los Angeles A clinical pharmacist at California Pacific Medical Center is suing UI Pharmaceuticals for injuries she claims she suffered when unpacking a box of sodium chlorite vials destined for a clinical trial Lake Tahoe fireworks violate the Clean Water Act, according to a lawsuit California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control is hoping for a funding increase of $4.5 million “to fix the state’s hazardous waste tracking system, its permitting program and the way it collects money from polluters who have walked away from contaminated land“ U.S. spent nuclear fuel storage in pools remains safe, members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission say Germany finds an average of 2,000 tons of buried WWII munitions annually The export and destruction of the most dangerous materials in Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile has begun Fires and explosions: A heat exchanger at a Mitsubishi Materials plant in Japan exploded during cleaning, possibly from exposing a chemical to air, killing five workers and injuring twelve others Fire gutted two chemical factories in India. In one, “while methanol was being unloaded from a tanker, a spark occurred which set afire 12 drums loaded with chemicals. This in turn blasted two reactors.” In the other, “the packing unit of Hetero Pharma in Polepally SEZ went up in flames reportedly due to electric short circuit.” No one was hurt in either. A fire at a Malaysian chemical company reportedly started when a bottle of “nitrite acid” exploded “Cleaning solvents used to sterilize equipment caused a chemical reaction that spawned a flash fire” at Amgen, injuring two workers Leaking nitric acid was reportedly the cause of a fire at...

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Friday chemical safety round up
Dec20

Friday chemical safety round up

Chemical health and safety news since Thanksgiving: Instead of tweet, a quote from a comment on Chemjobber’s post about high school chemistry demonstration accidents Yesterday I went and filled out the paperwork to teach Chemistry at the community college across the street as an adjunct. I was required to watch a 25 minute CD on safety. The sound did not work on the CD. I went and told the person that I was filling out the paperwork about the problem the CD She said “Oh, dont worry about it”. Remember that Nitrile gloves do not provide universal protection! ‘Tis the season for Christmas tree fires; here’s a nice graphic on holiday decor safety. Also, there are some lovely chemistrees out in the twitterverse! December’s AIChE Process Safety Beacon covers the hazards of strong oxidizers Miss BioRaft’s webinar on “Proactive EHS Management and Communications”? Here’s the recording. In OSHA news, whistleblowers can now file complaints online and the Labor Department would like public comment on agency standards to improve chemical safety Rising caseload, fewer Labor Department judges triggers painful mix for suffering laborers OSHA no match for workplace dangers that kill thousands Routine labor violators receive billions in federal contracts Don’t we want to reveal the good news about workplace safety? High bladder cancer rate shrouds New York plant Nuclear weapons clean-up disputes heat up in, South Carolina and Washington state It will take an international effort and an Italian port to get Syria’s chemical weapons out to the U.S. MV Cape Ray for destruction Skipping the incidents for time reasons, will start fresh with those in January. Happy...

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Friday chemical safety round up
Nov22

Friday chemical safety round up

Chemical health and safety news from the past few weeks: Court watch On Nov. 20, UCLA chemistry professor Patrick Harran had a status check with the judge regarding felony charges of labor code violations that led to the death of researcher Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji. The result of that status check was another status check scheduled for Jan. 10, 2014. Harran’s preliminary hearing concluded on April 26. We’re going on two years since charges were filed on Dec. 27, 2011, and five years since the Dec. 29, 2008, fire. On Nov. 1, former UC Davis chemist David Snyder was arraigned on felony charges of reckless disposal of hazardous waste, possession of a destructive device or explosive, possession of materials with intent to make a destructive device, and possession of firearms on university property. The charges relate to an explosion in his campus apartment nearly one year ago. Snyder’s preliminary hearing concluded on Oct. 10. Snyder is scheduled for a trial-setting conference on March 17, 2014, and a jury trial to start on March 24, 2014. Tweets of the month from @Free_Radical1: First synthesis lab of the semester, and 3 students not wearing goggles. Lab uses conc. phosphoric/sulfuric acid. Meh, vision is over-rated. — Free Radical (@Free_Radical1) November 11, 2013 Idea for post-lab question: do a Google Image Search for “sulfuric acid in eyes”, screen cap the first page of hits, email to TA. #tempting — Free Radical (@Free_Radical1) November 11, 2013 I think our safety committee would have an issue with 450 undergrads synthesizing TNT: http://t.co/xYphFEXxMh — Free Radical (@Free_Radical1) November 21, 2013 Came across a J Chem Ed lab where the students used lithium aluminum hydride. Um…yeah. And by “yeah”, I mean “no”. — Free Radical (@Free_Radical1) November 21, 2013 Other items of interest The president-elect of ACS, Diane Grob Schmidt, is currently the chair of the Division of Chemical Health & Safety NIOSH released new recommendations for controlling worker exposure to nanomaterials BioRAFT will hold a webinar on Proactive EHS Management & Communications on Dec. 12 Residents near an Allenco Energy oil field in Southern California have been complaining for three years about fumes from the site. At Sen. Barbara Boxer’s request, EPA investigators visited the site in October. “I’ve been to oil and gas production facilities throughout the region, but I’ve never had an experience like that before,” [EPA regional administrator Jared] Bumenfeld said. “We suffered sore throats, coughing and severe headaches that lingered for hours.” No word on what’s happened since. Also in California, state regulators are supposed to match hazardous material origin paperwork with what arrives at disposal sites. They don’t. “These so-called lost loads...

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What’s that ‘bright orange’ chemical?
Nov14

What’s that ‘bright orange’ chemical?

…so asked See Arr Oh last week, regarding Carol Anne Bond’s case before the Supreme Court. Bond tried to poison her husband’s mistress. For her efforts, she wound up convicted of violating the Chemical Weapons Convention(*). NPR seems to have caught See Arr Oh’s attention with this: Bond stole toxic chemicals from the chemical manufacturing company where she worked and ordered other chemicals over the Internet. She combined the chemicals into a compound that is potentially lethal in small amounts — and is also bright orange. Bond spread the toxic material on her rival’s mail, mailbox, front doorknob, car door and other surfaces. But because of the orange color, the mistress, Myrlinda Haynes, easily spotted the chemicals and avoided any injury except a thumb burn. See Arr Oh then went hunting through the SCOTUS brief to see what Bond actually used: She purchased some potassium dichromate (a chemical commonly used in printing photographs) from Amazon.com, and stole a bottle of 10, 10-chloro-10-H-phenoxarsine (an arsenic-based chemical) from her employer. Petitioner knew the chemicals were irritants and believed that, if Haynes touched them, she would develop an uncomfortable rash. But our intrepid blogger still has a question: What I haven’t been able to figure out from the stories or briefings is whether she intended the combination of two potentially poisonous, irritant substances to function apart, or to perform some sort of solid-phase oxidation to, for example, phenoxarsine oxide (a known antimicrobial compound). Thoughts, anyone? (*) Whether the case is an appropriate use of the Chemical Weapons Convention is why the case is before the Supreme...

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