Friday chemical safety round up
Oct04

Friday chemical safety round up

I’ll be in Yolo County again today for the end of former University of California, Davis, chemist David Snyder’s preliminary hearing on explosives and firearms charges. Watch Twitter for updates and here on Monday for a recap. Here’s the chemical health and safety news from the past few weeks: The ACS Committee on Chemical Safety released its guidelines on Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories A planned ACS webinar on chemical safety was cancelled because the federal government shutdown put CSB investigator Mary Beth Mulcahy on furlough. The shutdown will delay CSB investigations, such as that into the West, Tex., fertilizer explosion. More than 90% of OSHA inspectors are also furloughed. For more on shutdown effects, see C&EN’s story by Andrea Widener. University of California, Los Angeles, chemistry professor Patrick Harran had a court date on Thursday regarding felony charges of labor code violations stemming from the death of Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji. The status check with the judge resulted in scheduling of another status check for Nov. 20. Let us pause here to thank C&EN’s Michael Torrice for doing the yeoman’s work of attending all these court appearances, even when they last all of 40 seconds. Harran “should not be made out to carry the full weight of the accident,” wrote an opinion columnist in the University of Southern California’s Daily Trojan, seemingly missing the fact that the University of California system faced (and settled) charges as well My lab makes me sick, wrote Butler University chemistry professor LuAnne McNulty, whose asthma is triggered by volatile organic compounds. She described her use of Skype to get around the problem of trying to mentor students when she can’t enter the lab. John at It’s the Rheo Thing really got decked out in PPE, complete with a self-rescue respirator Improving respirator masks to put fresh air in reach (how has it taken me until now to learn that there is a National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory? Must arrange to visit sometime. When it’s open again.) The October issue of AIChE’s Process Safety Beacon looks at electrical equipment in hazardous areas In California, the Air Force wants to transfer a radioactive waste dump to Sacramento: “Mayer’s attitude about state and local officials, and his insistence that the Air Force can bulldoze ahead despite the state’s strict environmental laws, highlights an escalating clash between military officials and local communities over the plight of former bases now being converted for civilian use.” The estimate for a proposed uranium processing facility in Tennessee has gone from $600 million to as much as $11.6 billion In Southern California, battery recycler Exide continued to violate lead...

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Hearing postponed for #DavidSnyder in UC Davis explosives case
Sep06

Hearing postponed for #DavidSnyder in UC Davis explosives case

The preliminary hearing for former University of California, Davis, chemist David Snyder on explosives and weapons charges was scheduled to continue today in Yolo County Superior Court. Snyder’s defense attorney is recovering from surgery, so the hearing was postponed to Oct....

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Preliminary hearing started for #DavidSnyder in UC Davis explosives case
Jul30

Preliminary hearing started for #DavidSnyder in UC Davis explosives case

Former University of California, Davis, chemist David Snyder appeared in court on Friday to begin his preliminary hearing on 17 felony charges relating to a January explosion in Synder’s campus apartment. The charges are for 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. Snyder was released from jail in February on $2 million bail. Snyder was working as a postdoc at the time of the explosion; he’d received his Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Davis in 2011. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is for a judge to rule on whether there is enough evidence to take the case to trial. Deputy district attorney Martha Holzapfel called eight witnesses: Joanne Zekany, UC Davis police detective Lee Benson, City of Davis police officer Scott Allen, City of Davis police officer Paul Henoch, UC Davis police sergeant Kevin Skaife, UC Davis police detective Daniel Powell, City of Davis police sergeant and member of the Yolo County bomb squad Brian Parker, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives special agent Jason Winger, West Sacramento police sergeant and member of the Yolo County bomb squad The court got through direct testimony of all eight witnesses on Friday. The judge scheduled the hearing to resume with cross-examination of Jason Winger on Friday, September 6. Most of the testimony during the hearing was hearsay–evidence based not on a witness’s personal knowledge but on another’s statement, such as a police officer recounting what someone else said. Unlike in criminal trials, hearsay is allowed in preliminary hearings. Joanne Zekany, UC Davis police detective Zekany testified about investigation interviews she conducted. Snyder worked on synthesizing compounds for cystic fibrosis research in chemistry professor Mark Kurth’s lab at UC Davis. Kurth told Zekany that none of Snyder’s work involved explosives, although under cross-examination Zekany said that she had not gone through with Kurth the properties of every chemical Snyder handled. A graduate student in Kurth’s group, Teresa Palazzo(*), told Zekany that a week before the incident, Snyder approached her and asked if she wanted to learn how to make triacetone triperoxide (TATP), then proceeded to get the chemicals to do it. Graduate student Kelly Gottlieb told Zekany about finding a bottle of a snake venom compound on a counter during a lab clean-out, and she told Zekany that Snyder commented it would be easy to take from the lab. UC Davis hazardous waste technician Kevin Phelps told Zekany that during the lab clean-out, Snyder was wandering in and out of the lab and going through cabinets and bins...

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Friday chemical safety round up
Jul12

Friday chemical safety round up

The Safety Zone will be quiet the next couple of weeks while I’m on vacation. I’ll be back to attend David Snyder’s preliminary hearing in the UC Davis explosives case on July 26th. But first, chemical health and safety news from the past week: The Long Chain of Responsibility Behind an Oily and Deadly Train Wreck: “as long as we depend heavily on oil, we all ‘own’ a portion of every disaster related to oil extraction, transport or use.” Also on the Quebec derailment, the rail tankers involved reportedly have a history of puncturing in accidents and are a staple of the American freight rail fleet Safety boards get unequal access, on NTSB vs CSB: “Contrast the transparency [in the San Francisco plane crash] with the murky investigation into the April 17 explosion in West.” Regarding the Sheri Sangji case, “I teach graduate students who are about the same age. And they may be talented, smart, driven, capable. But we call them ‘students’ for a reason. They are early in their careers and it’s our job to both help them gain experience and to help keep them safe while they do so.” From Chemjobber’s Process Wednesday, “When ‘old school’ meant a bunker“ A New Jersey jury found former Bristol-Myers Squibb chemist Tianle Li guilty of poisoning her husband with thallium. The Newark Star-Ledger has some excellent background reporting on the case. And a California jury found Hasan Ibrahim guilty of attempting to place various hazardous materials on a passenger airplane bound for Germany OSHA strengthens rules for ‘model workplace’ program Illinois hazmat reporting flawed, study suggests Wired showcased some incredible photographs of bullet cross sections. I’d love to know how the person who cut them pulled it off. I was told a couple of years ago when touring Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s High Explosives Applications Facility that the key to machining explosives is to do it slowly, so maybe that’s the trick here, too. Fires and explosions: Molten zinc was the source of a fire at a Ternium USA plant in Louisiana A fire at Colonial Metals in Maryland was confined to the shipping and receiving area of the facility A fire at waste company Pollution Control Industries in Tennessee “had no toxic chemicals burning, but the flammable chemicals storage area was well involved”; two employees and three firefighters were injured Leaks, spills, and other exposures: Assuming that the two leaks are the same thing, this story indicates that the “nitrogen” leak at Intel listed last week was actually nitrogen trifluoride Methanol or ethanol spilled at Stanford in a hazmat storage area, I think in mechanical engineering Not covered (usually): meth...

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Hearing scheduled for David Snyder in UC Davis explosives case
Apr30

Hearing scheduled for David Snyder in UC Davis explosives case

Former University of California, Davis, chemist David Snyder had a second prehearing conference today regarding charges of possessing and intending to make explosives on campus. The judge scheduled Snyder’s preliminary hearing to start on July 26, says Michael Cabral, assistant chief deputy district attorney in the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. As part of the case, the prosecution wants to review Snyder’s medical records, a move that Snyder opposes. The judge scheduled a hearing on that matter for May...

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