Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2006 15:06:36 -0400
Reply-To: List Moderator <esf**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <esf**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: Re: New article about the chemical explosion in France

From: Beth Shepard 
Date: June 1, 2006 3:03:13 PM EDT
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] New article about the chemical explosion in  

 >Your link only works if you are a subscriber to Nature or are  
willing to pay $30 for the article.  Can you summarize the commentary  
in this article without violating copyright provisions?

Sorry, Pete--I thought the link would at least let you read the  

"Although official investigations are expected to last until the end  
of the year, it appears that residues of the flammable gas ethene in  
a pressure vessel were responsible. Burget was working in the lab  
above the explosion and had nothing to do with the experiment, which  
also severely injured a 19-year-old student in the room next  
door." (19 yr. old will be back at school next week). "The explosion  
cause roughly 10 million euros (US $130 million) damage & destroyed  
4000 sq. meters of the building, which will take at least 3 years to  
rebuild."  ***The Euro to $ conversion is incorrect. The symbol with  
the 10 million was a backwards "E" of the Euro, but the current  
conversion factor is 1.2 dollars per Euro, so 10 million Euros is US  
$12.8 million NOT US $130 million***

Then the article goes on to talk to various safety professionals  
(British & American) about how dangerous chemistry actually is vs.  
the perception that exists because of incidents like this one. The  
consensus in the article is that academic labs are more hazardous  
than industrial labs of a comparable size {"We find that the accident  
rate [in universities] is 10 to 50 times greater than in the chemical  
industry." (James Kaufman)], that things are much better that they  
have been in the past, that it would be very helpful to have a  
national database of incidents & an ability to track the types &  
number of incidents that are specifically lab-related industry-wide &  
institution-wide. It also indicated that there doesn't seem to be as  
much attention paid to the inherent risks of academic biology labs,  
despite the serious risks involved with potential infections  
(hepatitis C  & vaccinia virus were mentioned). Another person in  
this article indicated that the 2 areas he thought were still in need  
of improvement in academic labs are overcrowding (of students) &  
waste disposal (the communal container of miscellaneous solvent,  
reaction products, etc.).


Beth Shepard
Technical Specialist, Regulatory Compliance
Sigma-Aldrich, Milwaukee
Phone: (internal) 6-414-5471
Phone: (external) 414-438-3850 ext 5471
FAX: 414-438-4235 or 6-414-5432

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