Date: Wed, 30 Dec 2009 09:49:01 -0500
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Subject: 4 Chemical Safety news stories from Google


Two research students killed in BARC lab fire

BS Reporter / Mumbai December 30, 2009, 1:09 IST

Two research students were burnt alive in a fire that broke out at a 
chemical laboratory inside the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) 
complex at Trombay, near Mumbai.

An official statement said that no reactor, radioactivity or radiation 
was involved in the accident.

The accident happened at 12.05 pm in one of the rooms of the Modular 
Laboratory, which had a few analytical instruments like 
spectrophotometers, said an official release.

Agencies said the victims were in the age group of 22-25 years and were 
identified as Umang Singh of Mumbai and Partha Bag of Kolkata.

=93There was a loud bang after which black smoke billowed out of the 
chemistry lab filling the corridor,=94 BARC director and Atomic Energy 
Commission Chairman Sreekumar Banerjee told news agency PTI.

It was not immediately clear if the bang was caused by any explosion or 
was triggered by a chemical reaction. No research involving radioactive 
material is conducted in the multi-storeyed modular lab, said the 

The BARC fire brigade arrived immediately and brought the fire under 
control in about 45 minutes. The two bodies, charred beyond recognition, 
were discovered by the firemen who entered the laboratory after 
extinguishing the fire.

Police have started investigations and BARC has also started 
investigating the cause of the fire, said the release.

Two killed in BARC laboratory fire

T.S. Subramanian

CHENNAI: Two persons were burnt to death in a fire that broke out in a 
chemical laboratory in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Trombay, 
Mumbai, on Wednesday.

Spectroscopic equipment are kept in the laboratory located on the third 
floor of a building.

BARC Director and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Srikumar 
Banerjee called it a =93sad event.=94 =93We are checking all the points=94
 on what caused the fire. =93I don=92t know how this can happen,=94 
because no incendiary material, LPG or hydrogen cylinders, were stored 
in the laboratory.

The fire was contained after 45 minutes.

PTI reports from Mumbai:

The research students in the 22-25 age group were identified as Umang 
Singh of Mumbai and Partha Bag of Kolkata. They were identified on the 
basis of the ID cards they carried since the bodies were charred beyond 
recognition, a BARC release said.

It was stated that no reactor, radioactivity or radiation was involved 
in the accident.



Wheelie bin blast maims Rocky teen

Melinda Siegmeier | 30th December 2009

An 18-year-old man was seriously injured when a plastic bottle 
containing liquid exploded when he emptied the rubbish on Monday night.

A TEENAGER has chemical burns to his eyes and two shattered hands after 
a two-litre plastic soft-drink bottle containing chemical liquid 

The 18-year-old was emptying rubbish into a recycling bin beside his 
North Rockhampton home at 8pm on Monday when he noticed a foreign bottle 
and reached for it.

As the bottle moved it exploded, sending the chemical into his eyes. The 
pressure from the blast severely injured his hands.

The chemical, thought to be chlorine, burnt the protective film off the 
man=92s right eye and sent him momentarily blind.

The pressure was so severe his wrist watch was torn from his arm and 
landed 7m away.

Yesterday the teen, who asked not to be named, still had blurry vision 
and had a saline solution permanently circulating through his eyes, as 
he recovered in Rockhampton Hospital.

The mother said it wasn=92t the first time a suspected =93chlorine bomb=94
 had been placed in their wheelie bin.

She said six weeks ago a large bang came from the bin and shook the 



Ag campus fire destroys lab 

No injuries reported in blaze on 2nd floor of UT's McCord Hall

By Hayes Hickman, Don Jacobs 
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 

A Monday blaze on the second floor of a University of Tennessee 
agriculture campus building has destroyed a laboratory, and fire 
officials' investigation is continuing.

The fire at McCord Hall, which houses offices and labs for the Animal 
Sciences Department, was reported to E-911 about 2:20 p.m. by Brynn Voy, 
an assistant professor of animal sciences.

"I was on the second floor and heard the fire alarm go off," Voy said. 
"We heard the glass popping and could see smoke and flames on the second 

Knoxville Fire Department Capt. D.J. Corcoran said the fire was in a lab 
area of the four-story brick building, 2640 Morgan Circle, and was 
contained to that section. The building houses faculty laboratories and 
offices, as well as the ag campus' cafeteria, Mabel's Cafe.

Voy said she believes she and probably one other person were the only 
staff in the building at the time of the fire. Classes are out for the 
holidays break.

"The fire was breaching through the windows when firefighters arrived," 
said Corcoran, adding that no one was in the lab at the time of the 
fire, and no injuries were reported.

The building dates to the 1920s and does not have a sprinkler system. 
The laboratory had wooden floors and ceiling joists, and fire 
investigators speculated that might have fed the flames, which also 
damaged the ceiling between the second and third floors.

The "wet lab" is used for mastitis research associated with cattle milk 
production, said Lorna Norwood, spokeswoman for the UT Institute of 

"=46rom here, it does look like that lab is a total loss," Norwood said.

Corcoran added that firefighters later scrubbed their gear clean as a 
precaution, as a room adjacent to the fire housed several chemicals and 
bacteria, including salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli.

The bacteria do not pose an airborne threat, said Corcoran, but could 
cause illness if they come into contact with an open cut, the nose or 


Bomb suspect's explosive undies shown

The first photos of the underpants bomb that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab 
allegedly tried to detonate on a Northwest Airlines flight above Detroit 
on Christmas Day have been released.

Experts have since been debating whether the explosive, if properly 
detonated by the 23-year-old Nigerian suspect, would have caused enough 
damage to bring down the transatlantic airliner.

According to the US Justice Department, Abdulmutallab tried to detonate 
PETN, an explosive powder also known as pentaerythritol which belongs to 
the same chemical family as nitroglycerin.

It was the same explosive used by "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid, the Briton 
convicted of trying to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes while on 
a Paris-Miami flight in December 2001.

The material was sewn into Abdulmutallab's underwear and officials say 
tragedy was averted only because the makeshift detonator failed to work 

"It's one of the most powerful explosives, more powerful than TNT or 
other plastic explosives," Mr Hoffman said.

"On an airplane, especially sitting in a window seat, you only use a 
small amount of that to partially destroy the fuselage."

Chemical reaction

Preliminary probe findings show the suspect filled a syringe with a 
liquid chemical and tried to inject it into a powder that he had hidden 
in his trousers.

Witnesses heard popping sounds like "firecrackers," while some told US 
media they saw Abdulmutallab's trousers, his seat and the side of the 
cabin on fire before passengers and crew subdued him and put out the 

According to ABC America, who released the images of the underwear, the 
suspect had 80 grams of PETN sewn into his underpants.

CNN cited sources familiar with the investigation saying it was enough 
explosive to blow a hole in the side of the aircraft.

But some experts expressed doubts about the deadliness of such a blast.

"This is not a huge dose," Jimmie Carol Oxley, an explosives expert at 
the University of Rhode Island, said.

"A few months ago ... I took that much explosive and used it though, up 
against half-inch [1.3-centimetre] steel, and it made a hole about the 
size of a nickel," she said.

The skin of an airplane is generally thinner than half an inch, but its 
made of light-weight but strong and highly-resistant aluminium.

Fatal explosion?
The question is, would such an explosion, and resulting hole, have been 
fatal to the Northwest Airbus 330 and its passengers?

Not necessarily, according to Vincent Fave, a French expert in aviation 

"Everything depends on the size of the hole, the power of the explosive 
and the altitude," Mr Fave said.

"The aircraft is high up, and it is more exposed because of high 

"I am not convinced that a small hole is a real danger to the aircraft, 
except to be a real danger to the person who is nearby."

In addition, the jet was already well into its descent, thereby reducing 
the potential of a violent cabin depressurisation.

Even if an explosion blew a substantial hole in the aircraft, that is no 
guarantee that the craft will break apart or crash.

In a well-documented case in 1988, a decompression explosion in an Aloha 
Airlines Boeing 737 flying at 7,000 meters with 95 people aboard ripped 
a hole in the left side of the plane's roof, sucking one person out of 
the plane to her death.

The plane landed safely 20 minutes later, despite damage which had grown 
to a gaping, six-metre hole in the top half of the fuselage. All 94 
other people on board survived.


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