Date: Fri, 4 Dec 2009 08:00:43 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
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From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: 4 Chemical Safety news stories from Google

With regard to the second story below, I believe that there will be a 
biofuels symposia as part of the CHAS program in San Francisco.



Eight students injured in laboratory chemical accident
Published: 3 Dec 09 08:10 CET

Eight students were injured in a chemical laboratory accident on 
Wednesday night at the University of Karlsruhe, police reported.

A 22-year-old student at the Institute for Organic Chemistry there had 
been trying to neutralise a substance, but accidentally used the wrong 
material, police in the southwestern state of Baden-W=FCrttemberg said. 
The mistake created a poisonous mixture that was released into the 
laboratory where other students were also working.

Eight people were transported to a nearby clinic after complaining of 
discomfort, and five remained hospitalised for observation. They 
reportedly suffered irritation of their mucous membranes. 

The teaching laboratory was fumigated and cleaned and can now be safely 
used by students again, police said.
DDP/The Local (news**At_Symbol_Here**


Washington state

No health danger, officials say
By Callie White, Jacob jones and Jillian Beaudry -The Daily World
Thursday, December 3, 2009 11:12 AM PST

JACOB JONES | THE DAILY WORLD Hoquiam firefighters and Imperium Grays 
Harbor workers inspect the area where a 10,000-gallon glycerin tank 
exploded Wednesday, sending debris flying more than 100 feet. A large 
section damaged the biodiesel plant=92s chain-link fence, at bottom 
right. The black residue is glycerin resin, according to the company.

Cleanup crews have been dispatched and Imperium Grays Harbor employees 
were back on-site today to start picking up the pieces after the 
biodiesel plant was rocked yesterday afternoon by a large explosion that 
caused a tank to leak sulfuric acid. The acid was contained on the site, 
but some businesses in the area were evacuated as a precaution.

The blast hit the plant, which is in Hoquiam near the city=92s border 
with Aberdeen, at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, rattling windows in the 
area and sending out a boom that could be heard for miles.

No one was injured in the blast, said Hoquiam Assistant Fire Chief Paul 
Dean. There were six employees at the plant when the explosion occurred.

The explosion started when a 10,000 gallon tank being used to mix 
glycerin and sulfuric acid apparently became overpressurized, according 
to John Williams, Imperium spokesman, in a press release. The tank was 
completely destroyed.

=93We don=92t know why it was overpressurized,=94 Williams said today.

He said glycerin is not an explosive substance, and in the mixing tank 
it is neutralized further by the addition of acid. He added that there 
was no fire at any point. Black streaks on nearby  tanks looked like 
charring in news footage and photos, but Williams said that was the 
glycerin, which he described as similar in color and texture to 

A large piece of the glycerin tank blew about 100 feet, crashing through 
Imperium=92s chain link security fence.

The explosion damaged pipes and two adjacent tanks, one containing 
biodiesel and another containing sulfuric acid, which ruptured. The 
biodiesel tank was intact and there was no leak, Williams said.

Officials estimated about 500 gallons of sulfuric acid leaked out of a 
tank that had about 1,200 to 1,500 gallons in it at the time of the 
explosion. Much of the acid ran into containment areas built at the 
plant for just such an emergency, safety officials said.

It stopped leaking when the level fell below the point of the rupture, 
Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers said.

Safety officials yesterday were worried about the acid evaporating into 
the air and becoming a health concern.

State Department of Ecology officials monitoring air quality in the 
nearby neighborhoods later said levels were safe.

The plant is built slightly below ground level on a flat sheet of 
concrete that is surrounded by concrete walls. It is a containment area 
specifically to address this sort of emergency, Williams said.

An Imperium employee briefing safety officials said there was a pool 
approximately two inches deep of glycerin, sulfuric acid and water.

=93The processing tank and other tanks are located in a fully contained 
area, and as such the liquids and other materials do not pose a threat 
to the area,=94 Williams stated.

A private cleanup crew arrived about 3:30 p.m. yesterday. Imperium is 
responsible for the cleanup of the acid and sealing the sulfuric acid 

The crew, from the company CCS, also known as Cowlitz Clean Sweep, will 
begin neutralizing the acid and vacuuming up the liquids into tanker 
trucks =93as fast as possible,=94 Williams said. However, the companies 
are still assessing how, exactly, to put that plan into effect.

An Imperium employee confirmed the plant had been producing biodiesel 
after restarting earlier this year. The plant had exported two recent 
shipments, including one on Nov. 24, according to Port of Grays Harbor 
Executive Director Gary Nelson. Production at the plant had been 
suspended earlier because of market conditions.

The company has shut down operation of the plant until the extent of the 
damage can be determined. Company officials will conduct an 
investigation when they have full access to the incident area, Williams 

So far, he said, company employees did a walk-through with safety 
officials, determining that there was no risk of further explosions.

As fire crews reviewed chemical safety manuals and consulted Imperium 
employees yesterday, Dean said crews were not taking any chances with 
the leaking chemicals.

=93Our personnel are wearing breathing apparatus,=94 he said.

Officials evacuated businesses immediately west of the biodiesel plant. 
Affected businesses included Paneltech, Westport Shipyard, the 
Longshoreman=92s Union Hall containing its Credit Union and assorted 
warehouse businesses. The Port=92s 28th Street dock, a popular spot with 
sightseers, was closed down, as was the street. Grays Harbor Paper was 
informed of the sulfuric acid, but aside from a warehouse it owns, was 
not considered to be downwind.

State Department of Ecology officials and federal Environmental 
Protection Agency officials established air quality monitoring systems 
at the plant. At about 11 p.m., officials determined that it was safe 
for the businesses to start up, said Chief Myers.

Myers said the evacuation plans could have been much more extensive if 
the wind had not been blowing out to sea at about 10-15 m.p.h. at about 
3 p.m.

=93Normally, this time of day, it would be blowing into town,=94 he said 
yesterday. All things considered, =93the conditions couldn=92t get any 
better than this,=94 Myers said.

Firefighters repeatedly checked on weather conditions as they feared 
shifting winds could carry fumes into residential areas.

=93If we can keep that wind that=92s a godsend,=94 said Hoquiam Fire 
Department incident commander Capt. Chuck Bates. He was concerned about 
the onset of nightfall, a time when winds begin to shift back to shore 
and die down. Bates was concerned that a 3-mile radius around the plant, 
including residential areas, might be forced to =93shelter in place.=94 
That would mean staying in homes or offices with windows and doors shut, 
heating and air conditioning systems connected to outside air turned 

Chuck Wallace, deputy director of the county=92s Emergency Management 
department, said local departments led the response and containment of 
the explosion. He monitored the situation by checking in with emergency 
responders and hospitals.

=93They did a really, really good job,=94 he said of fire and police 
responders. =93They did exactly what they were supposed to do.=94

Myers credited the company for its reaction to the emergency. =93The 
company was very responsive and responsible,=94 he said.

Firefighters and private chemical crews inspected many parts of the 
plant. As darkness fell last night, Bates, the incident commander, 
worked with Imperium employees to shut down some automatic lighting to 
avoid any unpredictable sources of electricity or spark.

=93Are the lights explosion-proof?=94 Bates asked Imperium employees, 
quickly adding, =93Well, you guys are pretty much set up that way =97 
except you exploded.=94

Set in an industrial area with few windows trained on it, there were 
scant eyewitnesses outside the company to the explosion.

Myers said he knew something was up before the call came in =97 he heard 
the boom from all the way across the Hoquiam River.

So did Dean. =93It shook the station,=94 he said, and it immediately 
launched the firefighters to action. =93We knew something happened 
before we got the call.=94

Tom Bertelsen of Aberdeen, who works at nearby Olympic Eagle 
Distributing, said he ran outside to see what was going on when the 
explosion shook the building.

=93It was loud,=94 Bertelsen said as he stood by his car in the Pettit 
Oil gas station across from the biodiesel plant. =93Real loud.=94

A steady stream of gawkers passed by the plant, some pulling into the 
gas station across the street to get a better look at the gathering of 
police, sheriff=92s deputies and firefighters.


December 03, 2009 8:02 AM
Drum of chemicals blows 30 feet in air

ANAHEIM - A chemical explosion at a medical technology company 
prompted the response of firefighters and a Hazmat unit this morning, a 
fire official said.

The explosion was reported at 6 a.m. at ConMed Linvatec, 2860 E. White 
Star Ave., after a 55-gallon drum of chemicals exploded, possibly after 
it became contaminated, said Anaheim Fire Department spokeswoman Maria 

A 55-gallon drum is wrapped around a roof support beam after shooting 30 
feet into the air when it's contents exploded early Thursday morning. 
Anaheim firefighters responded to the explosion at ConMed Linvatec, at 
2860 East White Star Avenue, Anaheim. The fire department's hazardous 
materials team inspected the area before clearing workers to reenter the 

"It was a chemical reaction and caused the drum to blow about 30 feet in 
the air," Sabol said. "It hit so hard that it went straight up and it's 
on the ceiling."

The fluid in the 55-gallon drum was described as cutting oil used to 
lubricate the blades on the machines used to manufacture surgical 
equipment, Sabol said.

Twenty-five employees were inside the 14,000-square-foot building when 
the explosion occurred. They were evacuated and no injuries were 
reported, Sabol said.

A Hazmat team isolated the area and checked the air, Sabol said.
About 25 firefighters started to clear the scene shortly after 8 a.m., 
Sabol said.

Anaheim police closed White Star Avenue between North Blue Gum Street 
and La Palma Avenue.

A damage estimate was not immediately available.


United Kingdom

Hundreds of people evacuated after Worthing fire
7:44am Thursday 3rd December 2009

By Emily-Ann Elliott =BB

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes earlier today 
amid fears gas cylinders could explode in a fire.

The area evacuated has now been reduced, and people are being allowed 
back into their homes - see the 1.30pm update below for more.

Thousands of train commuters trying to get to work and school were left 
stranded as the South Coast rail line through Worthing was closed.

Firefighters were called to a blaze off Canterbury Road, Worthing, at 
1.45am at Shines car valeting workshop.

Crews were forced to back off after discovering acetylene cylinders at 
the scene.

Around 250 homes were evacuated, with many residents in their 
nightclothes going to stay with friends and relatives.

Around 50 people went to an emergency reception centre at Worthing 
Leisure Centre in Shaftesbury Avenue.

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