http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_14182642?nclick_check=1 Cup of chemical spills, prompting alarm in Santa Cruz, but there's no danger By Genevieve Bookwalter Santa Cruz Sentinel SANTA CRUZ =97 County residents from Mount Hermon Road to Highway 17 reported fears of a natural gas leak on Wednesday after a company contracted to fill fuel tanks in Harvey West accidentally spilled a cup of the liquid chemical they add to highly flammable natural gas so people can smell if the dangerous fuel is in the air. The chemical, mercaptan, typically smells like rotting cabbage and is readily identified by most as the telltale sign of a gas leak, said officials with Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District. County dispatchers said they reported 911 complaints about the odor to Santa Cruz Fire Department, which drove to the scene about 12:30 p.m. to make sure the permeating scent didn't signify a potential disaster. Instead, NorthStar, the company that Metro contracts to fill natural gas tanks for the district's low-emission buses, was mixing the mercaptan with the natural gas and "had some mishap where about a cup (of mercaptan) actually came out. That tells you how intense the odor is," said Les White, director of Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District. NorthStar is a Wyoming company that specializes in liquid natural gas fueling facilities. White said this is the first mercaptan spill at the new Harvey West fueling station since it opened about a year and a half ago. No one was injured by the spill or smell, he said. "We're having conversations with NorthStar about being more careful," White said. === http://www.kptv.com/news/22238446/detail.html 10 Taken To Hospital After Chemical Spill Clackamas County Dental Clinic Evacuated OREGON CITY, Ore. -- Fire officials said 10 people were taken to hospitals with minor respiratory symptoms after a chemical spill at a county health building in Oregon City on Thursday morning. Emergency personnel were called to Clackamas County Dental Clinic, located at 1425 Beavercreek Road, at about 11:40 a.m. The building was then evacuated, said Steve McAdoo, a Clackamas Fire District spokesman. Inhalation of formocresol, the spilled chemical, can cause respiratory distress, McAdoo said, but the affected people were only experiencing headaches, dizziness and minor respiratory symptoms. No one touched the chemical, which is an anti-bacterial agent that is used in small doses for dental work. The 10 people taken to three local hospitals included patients and staff, fire officials said. No one was admitted. The spill occurred when a clinic employee dropped a jar of formocresol and it leaked on the floor. "We really weren't sure what we were smelling -- upset tummy, you know, a little wheezy. (We) never thought anything of it. Then the drill alarm went off and we got everybody out," said Rebecca Castaneda, a dental clinic worker. The dental clinic reopened Thursday afternoon. About 100 patients visit the medical and dental clinics inside the building each day and 40 people work there. === http://portland.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2010/01/11/daily40.html Oregon OSHA fines Milwaukie company $740,400 Portland Business Journal Print Email Reprints RSS Feeds LinkedIn Share Comments The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division has fined Americold Logistics a total of $740,400 for extensive safety and health violations. The violations were found during a Sept. 16 inspection at the company=92s Milwaukie facility. By not having proper safeguards in place to contain ammonia, the company was putting workers in serious danger of injury or death due to a major chemical release or explosion, Oregon OSHA found. Oregon OSHA cited Americold Logistics, a national refrigerated warehouse operation, for 10 willful violations, four serious repeat violations, and 22 other serious violations of the Oregon Safe Employment Act. The bulk of the violations are related to the company=92s system for handling the hazardous chemical anhydrous ammonia, which is common in commercial warehouses and can be explosive. Ammonia can also cause severe alkaline chemical burns to skin, eyes, and the respiratory system. If a chemical leak occurs, ammonia released from such a system will expand rapidly, making it difficult to contain Among other issues, the inspection identified excessive ice build up, creating the potential for system damage and in some cases encasing valves, making it difficult, if not impossible, to close them in the event of an emergency. The inspection also identified significant corrosion of pipes and missing drain valve plugs, making ammonia release more likely. Oregon OSHA previously conducted an accident investigation at the Milwaukie location in 2007, after two employees were sent to the hospital following an ammonia compressor explosion. As a result of that inspection, which was limited in scope, 18 violations were issued. Oregon OSHA also cited the employer for violations of asbestos safety standards, due to damaged insulation. The company has 30 days to appeal the citation. === http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/6811745/ ConAgra explosion to prompt safety recommendations Posted: Jan. 14 4:11 p.m. GARNER, N.C. =97 The U.S. Chemical Safety Board will hold a public meeting next month to present the findings of its investigation into the fatal ConAgra Foods plant explosion last June, officials said Thursday. The CSB, an independent federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents, also will hear during the meeting from outside experts about how to safely purge natural gas lines. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Raleigh Sheraton Hotel, at 421 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. A June 9 explosion ripped through ConAgra=92s Garner plant, which makes Slim Jim beef jerky products, killing three workers. An outside contractor who was seriously burned in the explosion died several months later. Investigators with the CSB and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said last summer that, based on their initial investigation, contractors installing a water heater improperly vented natural gas inside the building, leading to the blast. Following a public comment period, the CSB is expected to consider draft staff recommendations for changes to the National Fuel Gas Code, which establishes gas purging practices followed across the country. =93This was a serious accident which claimed the lives of four workers, injured scores of others and resulted in hundreds of job losses,=94 CSB Chairman John Bresland said in a statement. =93The goal of the CSB investigation is to recommend measures that will help prevent other devastating accidents during gas purging operations.=94 CSB investigators said they have identified similar gas purging accidents in recent years, including an explosion at a Michigan power plant in 1999 that killed six and caused $1 billion in property damage and an explosion in 2008 at a San Diego hotel that injured 14. The state Department of Labor found 27 workplace safety violations at the ConAgra plant. The company agreed to pay a $106,440 fine and make certain policy and procedural changes, including addressing potential safety issues with contractors before work begins, to settle the case. Inspectors also fined contractor Energy System Analysts $58,100 for 28 safety violations. ConAgra reopened the plant in August, but because of its diminished production capacity, laid off 300 workers in November.
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