Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009 10:28:47 -0500
Reply-To: "Nail, John" <jnail**At_Symbol_Here**OKCU.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Nail, John" <jnail**At_Symbol_Here**OKCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Tulsa Lab Incident
Comments: To: List Moderator
In-Reply-To: <7765CDE1-C060-40BC-9576-8B4FC084DB01**At_Symbol_Here**>

As the initial report didn't make much sense, here are the details -

An organic chemistry professor at TU left this summer for an administrative
 position at another university, leaving behind round bottom flasks (still 
pots) with solvents and sodium metal.

The new organic professor (one that appears to be so green that, to borrow 
an Australian phrase, 'he wouldn't burn if soaked in diesel') called TFD to
 get advice as to how to clean out the flasks.

Whomever he was on the phone with at TFD heard 'fire and explosions', and r
esponded by sending out the bomb squad and a fire crew. There was no fire o
r explosion.

This incident occurred on the first class day of the academic year. The bui
lding was, of course evacuated.

TU eliminated its one person EHS department a couple of years ago.

Lessons leaned from this incident:
1) Ensure that professors clean up their labs before they start new jobs.
2) Ensure that there is someone in the department who knows how to handle w
hatever is likely to be found.
3) Don't use the terms 'fire' or 'explosion' when on the phone to the fire 
department unless there actually is a fire or an explosion.

BTW - As a grad student, I cleaned out a lot of active metal + flammable so
lvent still flasks and found that the best way to decompose the metal is to
 add dichloromethane, 2-propanol and water. The dichloromethane blankets th
e metal and prevents a fire from starting. The 2-propanol acts as a phase t
ransfer catalyst and the water decomposes the metal. I never had a fire wit
h this technique.

John Nail
Professor of Chemistry
Oklahoma City University

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Li
st Moderator
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 6:21 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Tulsa Lab Incident

The correct headline would have been: Good News: Lab Non-Accident at  

- Ralph

KRMG Local News
Lab Accident at TU

By Richard Dowdell **At_Symbol_Here** August 24, 2009 3:41 PM Permalink | Comments (0)  
| TrackBacks (0)
(Tulsa, Ok)--A flurry of excitement at the University of Tulsa Monday  
afternoon. The Tulsa Fire Department's Bill French explained what  
happened.  At 2:30 the fire crews were dispatched to a reported  
explosion at Keplinger Hall at 441 South Gary at the University of  
Tulsa campus. Upon investigation fire fighters found that no explosion  
had actually occurred. There was no explosion, no gas release and no  
injuries. After speaking to the professor who found the chemicals, he  
explained that he found two chemicals in two separate beakers. The  
first chemical was tetrahydrofuran, a type of peroxide that will  
crystallize after a period of time and create a potentially volatile  
chemical reaction. The second chemical that was also found in the same  
size beaker was sodium metal which is flammable when it comes in  
contact with moisture. The fire department was called for  
precautionary reasons. The Tulsa Fire Department hazardous materials  
team and the Tulsa Police Department
bomb squad were removing and disposing of the chemicals. The entire  
hall was evacuated.

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