Date: Thu, 31 Dec 2009 09:53:34 -0500
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Subject: 2 Chemical Safety news stories from Google


SMU building evacuated after acid leak 
? 2009 The Associated Press
Dec. 29, 2009, 5:08PM

DALLAS - More than a dozen people were evacuated from the Southern 
Methodist University engineering building for about three hours after a 
student noticed a package of hydrochloric acid that was leaking.

Authorities evacuated the building Tuesday morning as a safety 
precaution and said there was no immediate threat to the campus.

Hazardous materials experts were called in and the package was removed.

The package was intended for use in a campus laboratory.


BARC scientist had escaped fire just week before his death

 Updated on Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 18:45 IST Tags:BARC scientist, 
escaped fire, week before death

Mumbai: Umang Singh, who was burnt alive along with another young 
research scientist in the blaze at the country's premier atomic research 
laboratory BARC, was not second time lucky. 

It was only last week that Umang(27) had escaped with a minor injury on 
his hand when a small fire broke out last week in the same chemistry 
laboratory at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre where he met a fiery end 

"Last Friday, there was a small fire in the same laboratory where he 
died yesterday. Umang had extinguished it and escaped with a minor 
injury on his right hand," Umang's close friend Jairam Gholave said 
today while waiting to receive his friend's body at J J hospital's 
coroner's court. 

Gholave, doing his PhD in chemistry from the University of Mumbai, said 
he had scolded his friend for risking his life by putting out the fire 
with his hands instead of complaining about it to the BARC authorities. 

Umang had responded to the friendly advice by saying that he was very 
passionate about his institution and since it was not a major blaze, he 
did not want to make an issue out of it, Gholave said. 

As the distraught families of Umang and his research colleague Partha 
Bag struggled to come to terms with the tragedy, Umang's uncle Munna 
Singh demanded an inquiry into the incident alleging that there was an 
attempt by the BARC to hush up the matter. The families and the friends 
of the victims were waiting at J J hospital to collect the bodies after 

Umang was the youngest of his parents' three children and their only 
son. Umang's father retired from service a few years back and he was the 
family's sole bread winner getting a stipend of Rs 14,000 per month, 
Gholave said. 

Some of Umang's friends alleged that there was carelessness on the part 
of BARC as the room where the accident occurred was being painted and 
chemicals in the paint could have spread the fire. The cause of the fire 
is still being ascertained by the police and fire officials amid reports 
that it could be an electrical short circuit. 

"BARC should have cordoned off the chemical lab till painting work was 
completed. Also, the two research students should not have been allowed 
to work without supervision," they said. 

Meanwhile, blood samples of the parents of the victims are being 
collected to be sent to state forensic lab for DNA-testing, police said. 

Gholave said he knew Umang for the last four years and described him as 
a very studious person who wanted to go to the US for higher studies and 
also to earn enough to keep his family comfortable.

Benzene vapours in BARC lab could have caused blast

Mumbai/New Delhi:

A day after two research scientists in the Radiation and Photochemistry 
Department of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) were killed in a 
fire in their laboratory, the postmortem report concluded that the 
bodies had 100 per cent burns due to a chemical explosion, followed by a 

The lab was full of vapours and the open chemical bottles could have 
reacted, leading to the explosion and fire. Preliminary inquires 
indicate that the explosion could have been triggered by chemicals like 
benzene and acetone, bottles of which may have been kept open in the 

Additional Commissioner of Police (East Region) Ritesh Kumar said that 
samples are being sent for forensic tests. Lab staff and eyewitnesses 
who reported the fire have recorded their statements. A dog squad was 
also brought in to check for any explosive material.

According to the postmortem report, the bodies bore no other injury 
marks. Blood, DNA and viscera samples have been sent for forensics. Bone 
marrow samples of victims were preserved to match with the DNA of the 
parents to make a confirmed identification. The bodies were handed over 
to the families on Wednesday night.

Said Director of Forensic Science Laboratories, Kalina, M V Garad: =93We 
will analyse the debris to trace whether any explosive or inflammable 
substance or petroleum hydrocarbon was present that could have led to 
the fire.=94

BARC sources said the two PhD students, Umang Singh and Partho Pratim 
Bag, were =93tidying up=94 the laboratory, not conducting any 
experiment, when the fire broke out. There would normally have been five 
researchers in the laboratory which had been recently repainted =97 the 
others were on leave.

... contd.

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