Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 15:10:32 -0500
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Subject: 4 Chemical Safety news stories from Google

Police Briefs
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Saturday, January 09, 2010

Story last updated at 1/9/2010 - 12:12 am

A Texas Tech graduate student still was in a Lubbock hospital Friday 
after he was burned in a chemical explosion Thursday on the campus.
Preston Brown, 29, received severe burns to his face and hands when a 
mixture of elements - nickel hydrazine perchlorate - he was working with 
exploded about 4 p.m. in room 218 of Tech's Chemistry building, said 
Cory Chandler, a spokesman for the university.

Brown was taken University Medical Center where he remained in critical 
condition Friday night, according to a hospital supervisor.
Another student was taken to UMC with minor injuries, Chandler said.
No other people were exposed to dangerous chemicals from the blast, he 
said. The blast also damaged a work bench but did not produce a fire.
Tech's Department of Environmental Health & Safety was investigating the 
accident Friday.


Morehead City, NC on Chemical Alert

Morehead City, NC closes after nine containers of the highly explosive 
material (PETN) were punctured. PETN was the same material found in Umar 
Farouk Abdulmutallab underwear. The chemical has not caused any injuries 
or damaged the environment, but authorities are still urging residents 
to evacuate the area.

U.S. Highway 70 between Radio Island and 5th Street will be closed while 
emergency crews work to secure the area and continue to investigate the 
accident. The Morehead City police and fire departments and the Cherry 
Point emergency operations division are handling the accident.

Even though details of the incident are under investigation, the NC 
State Ports Authority say the accident occurred during a vessel 
operation, which are handled by private Stevedoring Companies. No 
comments have been made from the private company regarding how the 
accident occurred, but
the handling of explosive materials is nothing new to the port.

Hazmat materials are handled under strict regulations and in conjunction 
with local and state emergency management agencies. The eastern port is 
mostly known for importing sulfur and exporting phosphate, but PETN is 
used for something other than a highly explosive material, it's used to 
treat heart conditions as well.

Either way, PETN is one of the highest explosives known to man. The most 
common use of PETN is as an explosive that develops its maximum pressure 
quickly. The material is more sensitive than TNT or tetryl, but is more 
difficult to detonate than primary explosives, so mishandling it or 
using incendiary devices around it, will not normally cause an 

PETN was recently in the news when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 
23-year-old Nigerian, boarded an airplane with 80 grams of the explosive 
in his pants. Only a small fire resulted after he injected liquid into 
the material with a syringe, but the potential damage could have been 
catastrophic for the people on board.

History shows that the material was first synthesized in 1891 by German 
chemist Bernhard Tollens and P. Wiegand after the nitration of 
pentaerythritol. However, it wasn't until the German government patented 
the material in 1912, that the production of PETN had not only started 
but was used in World War I.

The material is contained to land and hasn't affected the water, but 
authorities are continuing to have voluntary evacuations as well as 
closing incoming traffic in and out of Morehead City, NC because of the 
obvious potential risks to the local population and environment.


  Tuesday, January 12, 2010Last Update: 7:05 AM PT
Troubling Record at Waste-Disposal Firm

(CN) - After investigating a deadly explosion at CES Environmental 
Services in Houston in July 2009, the Occupational Safety and Health 
Administration has proposed penalties of $1.5 million. An employee 
cleaning a tank was killed when an altered piece of equipment ignited 
flammable vapors inside the tank. OSHA said it was the third fatality in 
less than a year at CES facilities. 

CES is a waste management company. Among other things, OSHA found that 
15 pieces of electrical equipment were unsafe to use in the tank wash 
area due to the presence of flammable and combustible vapors. It claims 
that CES failed to ventilate tanks in which employees worked, exposing 
them to toxic air. And it claims that CES stored flammable and reactive 
chemicals together, creating hazards of fire and explosion.

The company already has been fined more than $224,000 for two hydrogen 
sulfide exposure-related deaths at another facility, Port Arthur 
Chemical & Environmental Services, on Dec. 18, 2008 and April 14, 2009. 
Those citations were contested and are being litigated before the 
independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

CES was sued a year ago by neighbors of the Houston facility, who claim 
CES is "illegally changing labels on hazardous material barrels," and 
"engaging in the illegal trafficking of hazardous substances" that made 
the residents sick.

CES and Port Arthur Chemical together employ 155 workers.


New Zealand

Fire crews from around the South Waikato were called to a chemical spill 
at Fonterra's Lichfield cheese factory yesterday.

Northern fire communications spokesman Jaron Phillips said about 1400 
litres of ammonia reacted with 10,000 litres of caustic soda in a silo 
at the southern hemisphere's largest cheese factory, causing a tank to 
overflow around 2pm.

The immediate area and 25 Fonterra staff were evacuated.

Fire appliances from Putaruru and Tokoroa were first on the scene.

A hazardous materials team wearing chemical protection suits was also 
called in from Rotorua. The chemical reaction sent a large gas cloud 
into the air, which was quickly dissipated by a southerly wind.

Wood Rd outside the factory was cordoned off, but nearby State Highway 1 
remained open.

One fireman was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure with what 
were though to be ammonia burns to his armpit.

"(Ammonia) is pretty nasty stuff if you get it on you," Mr Phillips 

Exposure to high con-centrations of ammonia can cause severe burns in a 
very short time.

Reacting with the water in the skin, it forms a substance that in 
sufficient quantities can be very corrosive.

By 3.15pm the spill had been contained in a cylinder. Neighbouring 
Wiltsdown Rd residents spoken to by the Times said they were not aware 
of the chemical spill. They heard fire sirens, but thought little of it. 
A Fonterra spokeswoman said a full investigation was under way.

The spill happened while chemical transport company Orica was unloading 
chemicals at the site. Orica spokesman John Redwood said the company was 
investigating how the spill occurred to ensure it didn't happen again.

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