Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 08:18:07 -0500
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From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: 4 Chemical Safety news stories from Google

Picking up the pieces, assessing the damage

The Times-Standard
Posted: 01/10/2010 12:24:20 PM PST

Humboldt County continues today to pick up the pieces from Saturday's 
earthquake with some businesses reopening and officials working on 
assessing the damage.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has received reports of one broken 
bone due to a fall during the 6.5-magnitude earthquake and various minor 
injuries such as bruising, spokeswoman Brenda Godsey said. County and 
city officials are currently working on damage assessments -- the 
process takes time and officials had to wait until daylight to start.

...descriptions of other damages removed... 

She also said that the department was readying its Haz-Mat team shortly 
before noon to go to College of the Redwoods, where the department had 
received reports of strong odors coming from the campus' biology lab and 
chemical storage unit.


Washington State

Imperium releases report on explosion
The Daily World
Saturday, January 9, 2010 4:58 PM PST

Dan Jackson 

Company pledges safety improvements, new training

Imperium Renewables has vowed to install new safety equipment after a 
company investigation determined a chemical reaction over-pressurized a 
mixing tank, causing the Dec. 2 explosion at the Hoquiam biodiesel 

The company announced Friday investigators believe an increase of 
sulfuric acid into a glycerin neutralization tank created an 
=93unexpected=94 exothermic reaction. The reaction over-pressurized the 
10,000 gallon tank, which exploded, sending booming sounds across the 
Harbor and pieces of the tank flying.

=93Personnel were unaware of the potential for such a reaction,=94 
spokesman John Williams wrote in the release, =93and the processing 
equipment itself was not designed with physical or mechanical safeguards 
to prevent an oversupply of sulfuric acid.=94

Imperium CEO John Plaza said in the release the company is planning to 
install new mechanical safeguards to prevent a similar increase in the 
acid ratio from reacting in the future.

=93We are taking steps to make sure this cannot, and does not, ever 
happen again,=94 he said.

The company explained glycerin is a by-product of biodiesel production. 
The chemical, which is a black powdery substance, is often mixed with 
sulfuric acid to restore its pH level to neutral before it can be 

=93When mixed in the recommended ratio, the chemical reaction does not 
pose a safety threat,=94 Williams wrote. =93On Dec. 2, Imperium 
personnel mixed sulfuric acid in a much higher ratio, which created the 
exothermic reaction.=94

The state Department of Labor & Industries continues its own workplace 
safety investigation, which could take several months to complete. A 
spokesman said he could not confirm if the department had received an 
investigation report from the company.

Williams wrote the JH Kelly construction firm is repairing damage to the 
facility. The explosion ruptured a nearby sulfuric acid tank, allowing 
about 500 gallons of the corrosive chemical to leak into safety basins 
surrounding the tank. Environmental officials found no health or safety 
impacts on nearby homes, businesses or habitat.

JH Kelly workers will also install a new glycerin tank system that 
includes mechanical safeguards against a similar oversupply of sulfuric 
acid, Williams wrote. Imperium workers will also undergo new training 
and safety instructions.

=93We are working hard to install and test the new equipment as fast as 
we can, but not at the expense of safety,=94 Plaza said in the release. 
=93We won=92t start the facility until we are confident that it runs as 

The new system is expected to go into place quickly, Williams wrote, but 
the plant will not resume production until it sees an improvement in the 
biodiesel market. The plant had recently restarted production last fall 
after laying off staff and suspending operations in early 2009.

Though the company has not released any time estimates for restarting 
its refinery operations, Plaza said in the release that an extension on 
biodiesel tax credits and continued enforcement of renewable fuel 
standards may be the only hope of maintaining demand for production.

=93Without action on both issues,=94 he said, =93we likely won=92t see 
enough demand to restart the facility.=94


West Virginia

January 9, 2010
Bayer cited for MIC tank violations
By Ken Ward Jr.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Bayer CropScience has not properly maintained or 
tested the underground storage tank where it keeps roughly 200,000 
pounds of methyl isocyanate, the deadly chemical that killed thousands 
of people in Bhopal, India, in 1984, state inspectors have alleged.

Department of Environmental Protection inspectors issued four citations 
to Bayer for alleged mismanagement of the MIC tank. Inspectors 
discovered the problem during a June 2009 inspection, and formal 
violation notices were issued in late September.

No fines have been issued, and DEP officials said last week they don't 
know if Bayer has fixed the problems.

Tom Dover, a Bayer spokesman, said in an e-mailed response that the 
company "is in discussions" with DEP and wanted to "emphasize that the 
integrity of the referenced tanks is not in question, nor is the safe 
storage of our materials."

But officials from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, who reviewed the DEP 
violation notices at the Sunday Gazette-Mail's request, said the 
allegations concerned them.

"It doesn't give us a warm and fuzzy feeling," board Chairman John 
Bresland said Friday. "I would have thought if you were dealing with a 
tank containing methyl isocyanate, you would always want to have the 
best practices in place."

CSB investigators have been examining the Institute plant's operations 
in the wake of the August 2008 explosion and fire that killed two plant 
workers and forced thousands of Kanawha Valley residents to take shelter 
in their homes.

For years, the Institute facility has been the only one in the nation to 
store large quantities of MIC onsite.

Last April, congressional investigators concluded the explosion could 
have easily damaged a nearby MIC storage tank and triggered a disaster 
that would have been worse than Bhopal. CSB officials described the 
incident as "potentially a serious near miss, the results of which might 
have been catastrophic for workers, responders and the public."

In late August, as the one-year anniversary of the deadly explosion in 
Institute neared, Bayer announced it was cutting its MIC storage by 
about 80 percent. After the changes, Bayer hopes to keep its daily 
maximum MIC inventory below 50,000 pounds -- still far more than any 
other chemical plant in the nation.


A Goshen family loses their new home to a fire, after moving in just 
hours before.

A huge blaze broke out early Saturday morning on the east side of 
Goshen, destroying the entire house.

A family of four managed to get out okay, but lost everything.

The Yates family can't believe they lost their new rental home, that 
they=92d only slept in half a night.

=93Just brought the furniture over the night,=94 said Russell Yates. 
=93Got it in where it goes and everything.=94

Russell says his wife was cleaning up after a painting project, when she 
dropped a cigarette on some flammable chemical.

=93Everything was just coming along just great, and then it was taken 
away in just a flash,=94 Russell said.

The fire took over, burning the house down within a few minutes

=93I was watching the glass just melt down and I knew there was nothing 
you could do,=94 said Jeremy Yates, Russell=92s son.

=93The smoke was incredible. Ran outside in my boxers and pretty much 
saw a 15-foot flame,=94 said Dustin Yates, Russell=92s other son.

=93It was so hot, happened so fast, had no idea,=94 said Russell. =93First
 fire I've ever been. Hope to God I'm never in another one.=94

Firefighters had to work for four hours to get the blaze out, and 
informed the family the entire home was destroyed.

Meaning they lost almost everything.

=93I've still got my family though, that's the main thing, the main 
thing, all still alive,=94 said Russell.

Red Cross helped the family with food and clothes. The family says 
firefighters were also very generous and made clothing donations.

The Yates family is staying with relatives for now.

If you would like to help the Yates family, you can contact Frank 
Connolly with the Red Cross at (574) 293-6510. You can also email 
Connolloy at frankc**At_Symbol_Here** Or you can call the Yates 
family at (260) 499-0172.

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