Date: Wed, 6 Jan 2010 08:25:20 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: 6 Chemical Safety news stories from Google


Hazardous materials case settled
School district to spend $750,000 on fines, hiring



Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.

SAN DIEGO =E2=80=94 San Diego Unified School District officials have 
agreed to spend more than $750,000 on fines, new hires, training and 
audits to settle a $1.26 million complaint from the county alleging 
widespread violations of laws governing hazardous materials.

The agreement comes more than five years after county "hazmat=E2=80
=9D inspectors surprised science classes with impromptu inspections, 
showed up unannounced at auto shops to scrutinize oil storage and 
checked wood shops to see if chemicals were properly labeled.

The unprecedented classroom inspections of at least 10 campuses and 
other sites highlighted numerous alleged problems with underground 
storage tanks and handling of various toxic compounds.

Regulators at the county Department of Environmental Health said they 
are not aware of any students being harmed, but said that poor labeling, 
improper storage, incomplete records and faulty backup containment 
systems raised the risks for fire, indoor air pollution and groundwater 

"I hate to single them out, but we did because they are 
largest=" school district in the county, said Mike Vizzier, chief 
of the county=E2=80=99s hazardous materials division. "The 
effect was to bring almost all of the others up to the standard very 

At least two other districts, Sweetwater Union High and Santee, have 
been cited for similar violations since 2004, but those problems were on 
a much smaller scale than San Diego=E2=80=99s.

The penalty is among the 10 largest of its kind countywide since 2002.

Vizzier praised San Diego Unified for making upgrades even before the 
penalty was finalized Dec. 22. The county could have pressed for $2.4 
million in fines, but it knocked off more than $1 million because of the 
school district=E2=80=99s efforts to fix the problems.

"If somebody asked me what is a model (district) now, I would 
say, =E2=80=98Why don=E2=80=99t you see what San Diego Unified is 

The district has paid a $40,500 penalty; agreed to hire at least five 
new employees =E2=80=94 a combination of positions that range from 12- 
to 24-month assignments; and conduct audits of waste management, among 
other things. In exchange, county officials agreed to give schools 
notice before making further inspections.

"We=E2=80=99re not sure what prompted this, we just know these 
kind of inspections were new to San Diego Unified,=" said 
environmental lawyer Cyndy Day-Wilson, an outside attorney hired by the 
district to handle the case. "Overzealous inspectors, that was 
our position. Inspectors just showing up in the middle of class =E2=80=A6 
checking to see if chemicals were properly labeled or if lids were on 

County officials also found problems with the way the district stored 
used oil, antifreeze and other chemicals at its transportation center, 
which houses school buses.

Alleged violations popped up in at least 10 district sites, including 
Kearny High, Hoover High, Point Loma High and Horace Mann Middle School.

Day-Wilson said the district was in the midst of correcting many of the 
problems at the time of the county inspections.

The district never admitted to wrongdoing, Day-Wilson said. Even so, the 
school board approved a consent order, a document detailing a settlement 
in the case, last month.=EF=BB=BF The district has already started 
hiring some of the new positions =E2=80=94 just as it prepares to 
eliminate others due to anticipated budget cuts.

The district is poised to cut up to $220 million from its $1.2 billion 
operating budget next year due to state reductions in education 

Most of the $750,000 in expenses to the district comes from more than 
$600,000 to hire the extra personnel. It also includes about $60,000 in 
legal fees. The district faces additional costs to satisfy other 
mandates in the consent order. For example, the district must train 
biology, chemistry, art, auto shop and woodworking teachers on waste 
management and establish hazardous waste business plans.


South Carolina

Pharmacy emptied over chemical leak
Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Charleston firefighters evacuated a Rite Aid pharmacy Monday night in 
West Ashley after pharmacy employees reported that a chemical was 
leaking from a drum in the pharmacy's photo lab.

Firefighters were dispatched to the store about 8:20 p.m., said Mark 
Ruppel, public information officer for the Charleston Fire Department.

Until they could determine the nature of the material that was leaking, 
firefighters followed standard procedures for unknown chemicals and 
evacuated the store, Ruppel said.

It was later determined that the leaking material posed no danger, 
Ruppel said. The store was reopened at 9:15 p.m.

The St. Andrews Fire Department assisted city firefighters in handling 
the incident, Ruppel said.


4 UCI women get threatening letters


IRVINE =E2=80=93 The number of UC Irvine employees receiving envelopes 
containing a mysterious white powder and the words 'Black Death' rose to 
four late today, leading the university to wonder why it is being 
targeted and why all the letters were sent to women.

All four letters came from Idaho, and the powder the envelopes contained 
has been examined and determined to be harmless, said Tom Vasich, a 
university spokesman. UCI will hand out plastic bags on 
Wednesday so that employees and students can quickly seal any suspicious 
looking mail they get.

The university also is closely screening all mail sent to UCI. Campus 
officials believe all four envelopes arrived over the Christmas holiday.

The latest victim was Benedicte Shipley, an assistant dean in the School 
of Biological Sciences. She received a letter with the mysterious powder 
at 4:30 p.m., leading fire, hazmat, public health and law enforcement 
officials to return to campus. The envelope arrived on the fifth floor 
of Natural Sciences II, a research building that is less than a five 
minute walk from the Information and Computer Sciences building, where 
Diana Tien, an undergraduate counselor, received one of the letters at 
9:30 a.m. today.

"We don't know why this is happening; it's a mystery," said Cathy 
Lawhon, UCI's media director. "Police are looking to see if there is a 
connection between the four people, all of whom are women."

On Monday, sociologist Cynthia Feliciano and chemical engineer Nancy Da 
Silva, received the first two menacing letters.

UCI turned off the air and heating system to the ICS building, and later 
cordoned off Natural Science II, which houses researchers who work in 
the biosciences and chemistry.

(more at web site)


Metro Birmingham emergency responders resolve chemical spill, without 

By Carol Robinson -- The Birmingham News

January 05, 2010, 4:50PM

A hazardous materials spill at Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway 
has been cleared, authorities said.

The spill happened when a tanker ruptured and spilled dry sodium 
chlorate. The spill happened at the company's facility at 1801 Fourth 
Street West, said Birmingham fire Battalion Chief C.W. Mardis. The 
amount was described as a chute full of the substance.

Sodium chlorate is an oxidizing agent used to make chlorine dioxide for 
bleaching and stripping of textiles, pulp, and paper, Mardis said. It is 
also used to disinfect and purify water. The scene was cleared about 
3:30 p.m.



Qld highway closed due to chemical spill
January 5, 2010

More than five hours after a chemical spill diversions remain in place 
around the accident site on Queensland's major highway.

The northbound lanes of the Bruce Highway were closed after about 15,000 
litres of liquid caustic soda spilt across the roadway from a tanker at 
Kallangur, north of Brisbane.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service crews were notified shortly after 1pm 
(AEST) and applied a neutralising agent to the chemical.

They said the clean-up process would take a number of hours.

There is no threat to people in the area from the chemical, commonly 
used in household cleaning agents.

There were no reports of injuries, although the driver of the vehicle 
was reportedly shaken.

At 6.15pm (AEST) on Tuesday emergency services remained on site cleaning 

A police statement said they were in the process of re-opening two lanes 
for traffic travelling north.

The remaining lane will remain closed for some time to allow for the 

Traffic is still being diverted and traffic congestion, which stretched 
for kilometres during the evening commute, remains.


Suspicious luggage at 2 airports causes evacuations in Minneapolis, 
flight delays in Calif.

Associated Press Writers
January 5, 2010 | 6:46 p.m.

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) =E2=80=94 Seemingly suspicious pieces of luggage 
delayed flights at two airports Tuesday, prompting evacuations in 
Minneapolis and closing a California airport where authorities 
discovered what turned out to be soft drink bottles filled with honey.

A passenger's suitcase tested positive for TNT at Bakersfield's Meadows 
Field during a routine swabbing of the bag's exterior, Kern County 
Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. When Transportation Security 
Administration officials opened the bag, they found bottles filled with 
an amber liquid, he said.

The bag's owner, Francisco Ramirez, told TSA officers that the bottles 
were filled with honey, Youngblood said. Further testing confirmed that 
honey was the only substance present in the bottles, said FBI spokesman 
Steve Dupre. No traces of explosives were found.

"Why in this day and age would someone take a chance carrying honey in 
Gatorade bottles?" Youngblood said. "That itself is an alarm. It's hard 
to understand."

At the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a bomb-sniffing dog 
indicated there was something suspicious about a piece of luggage, 
causing authorities to call a bomb squad and clear parts of the airport 
for more than an hour.

But the bag was never put on a flight and nothing suspicious was found, 
officials said.

The piece of luggage was only a placeholder airline employees put on the 
luggage carousel to signal to other employees that all the bags have 
been unloaded from a flight, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said. In 
airport jargon, it's called a "last bag."

"It was kind of a beat-up old bag that was simply used as a marker," he 

Investigators in California said Ramirez flew to Bakersfield Dec. 23 to 
spend Christmas with his sister and was returning Tuesday. The 
31-year-old gardener from Milwaukee was not arrested and was cooperating 
with authorities, officials said.

When TSA agents opened one of the five bottles and tested the contents, 
the resulting fumes nauseated them, Youngblood said. Both were treated 
and released at a local hospital.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office bomb squad was performing 
further tests to determine why at least two positives were recorded for 
both TNT and the organic explosive acetone peroxide, or TATP.

Bakersfield is about 110 miles north of Los Angeles.

Investigators want to know whether any chemical Ramirez uses in his 
gardening work could have left traces of potential explosives. They will 
also run tests on the substance to see if the smoke beekeepers use to 
subdue the insects could have triggered a false positive test on honey.

All flights into and out of Meadows Field were canceled for much of 
Tuesday as authorities searched the terminal for other potential 

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.