Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 08:38:10 -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: 4 Chemical Safety news stories from Google

Cup of chemical spills, prompting alarm in Santa Cruz, but there's no 

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.


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.


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.


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 

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.

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.