Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2010 08:06:04 -0500
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Subject: 7 Chemical Safety news stories from Google

New York

Chemistry class explosion injures seven

By Deborah Medenbach
Posted: January 19, 2010 - 12:16 PM
BOICEVILLE=97A chemistry class gone awry resulted in an explosion and 
HAZMAT teams being dispatched to the Onteora High School at 11 a.m. 
today on Route 28.

School officials said a teacher was demonstrating interactions between 
potassium chlorate and food items when the unexpectedly strong reaction 
occured. Less than three grams of potassium chlorate were involved. The 
chemical is used the the manufacture of safety matches and explosives.

Nearby classes reported hearing a sound like a loud door slam and the 
school's Quick Response Team responded immediately.

Seven students and the teacher were transported to area hospitals for 
treatment. The teacher and two students were treated for minor cuts and 
burns. The remaining students were checked for minor injuries.

Parents were contacted by school staff immediately and the school was on 
"modified lockdown" until the injured students and staff were 
transported out of the building. Schedules were adjusted for the rest of 
the day.

Police determined that HAZMAT response was not needed for cleanup after 
the explosion, school officials said.


Russia asks China about border chemical fire: report
(AFP) - 1 day ago

MOSCOW =97 Officials in Russia's far east have asked China for 
information about a fire at a chemicals plant in a Chinese city near the 
two countries' shared border, Russian news agencies reported Tuesday.

The regional branch of Russia's emergency situations ministry sent the 
query through diplomatic channels after learning from media reports 
about the fire in the city of Jilin, a ministry spokesman said.

"After numerous requests, the far eastern regional centre (of the 
emergency ministry) sent a query to the Chinese general consulate in 
Khabarovsk on steps taken by China to deal with this fire," he told 
Russian news agencies.

The fire on Saturday was reported to have destroyed over 700 square 
metres (7,500 square feet) of a chemicals plant in Jilin, a city in 
northwestern China along the Songhua river, the spokesman said.

If the fire led to a chemical spill in the Songhua river, the slick 
would take 30 days to reach Khabarovsk, a Russian city of 600,000 near 
the Chinese border, said a Russian environmental official, Alexander 
However there was no information about chemicals spilling into the 
river, Gavrilov was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS state news agency.

In 2005 an explosion at a chemical factory in China's heavily 
industrialised northwest dumped 100 tonnes of toxic chemicals into the 
Songhua, a tributary of the Amur River, which forms part of the 
Russian-Chinese border.
The spill, which caused a brief panic in Khabarovsk, spurred Beijing to 
announce plans to spend 1.2 billion dollars to clean up the Songhua.


Agency to investigate chemistry explosion
By Jon Vanderlaan

Almost two weeks after a chemical explosion injured a Texas Tech 
graduate student, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board announced it would 
conduct an investigation into the causes of the explosion.

Preston Brown, 29, still is in critical condition in the burn unit at 
University Medical Center as of press time Tuesday.

Cory Chandler, a Tech spokesman, said the Jan. 7 explosion occurred when 
a mixture of three chemicals exploded at about 4 p.m. in Room 218 of the 
Chemistry building.

Brown suffered severe injuries to his hands and face, Chandler said, 
although the injuries were not life threatening.

Don Holmstrom, the investigations supervisor from the CSB, said the 
board is just beginning the investigation and will examine evidence, 
conduct interviews and gather information from the university during its 

One reason the board will be conducting an investigation, he said, is 
the CSB aims to address issues that are not regulated already.

Taylor Eighmy, the Tech vice president for research, said the university 
looks forward to cooperating with the CSB investigation and also is in 
the midst of an internal investigation.

=93We believe that we have a very good system in place,=94 he said, =93but
 you can always learn from these types of situations.=94

The internal investigation Tech is conducting is standard procedure, 
Eighmy said, although this type of situation is unprecedented.

Daniel Horowitz, the director of public affairs with the CSB, said the 
board does not place fault in its investigations but gives 
recommendations for standards it believes should be in place around the 

In a news release, John Bresland, the chairman of the board, said the 
information gathered from this and other investigations will be used for 
a study on the subject.

=93We see serious accidents in high school and university labs every 
year, including a tragic fatality a year ago at UCLA,=94 he said in the 
release. =93I believe it is time to begin examining these accidents to 
see if they can be prevented through the kind of rigorous safety 
management systems that we and others have advocated in industrial 

Although the board does not have evidence suggesting these types of 
accidents are on the rise, Holmstrom said another reason for the 
investigation is to gather information about whether a trend exists.

=93We=92ll be looking at the frequency and number of accidents that 
occur in university labs,=94 he said.

The board does not issue fines or any type of sanction, Holmstrom said, 
but it will keep the public informed about its activities and key 
findings, possibly hosting a public meeting.

The investigation could take up to a year, he said, and may result in a 
full report about the board=92s findings.

United Kingdom

A chemical spill alert was sparked last night - by a leaky fridge at a 
Jan 19 2010 by Ben Schofield, Liverpool Echo

A LEAKY fridge sparked a chemical alert at Liverpool University.

Overnight cleaning and security staff suffering from streaming eyes and 
burning throats raised the alarm in the early hours of this morning.

They had been working in the Jane Herdman laboratory, off Pembroke 
Place, on Liverpool University=92 campus.

But the six-strong group was evacuated after a strong ammonia smell 
infiltrated the building.

Fearing noxious ammonia had been spilt, the university declared an 
emergency prompting police, paramedics and firefighters to descend on 
the scene.

Two firefighters wearing airtight suits and breathing gear were sent 
inside to find the source of the gas. They tracked it down to a fridge 
in an academic=92s office.

Emergency crews were called at around 2.50am and left an hour and a half 

It is the second emergency on the campus in two months. Two students 
were injured in a lab explosion in December.


More states took in expired meds in 2009

The Associated Press 
Tuesday, January 19, 2010; 4:43 PM

LAYTON, Utah -- A steel mailbox-sized bin in the lobby of a police 
department in northern Utah was full again, crammed with half-full 
prescription bottles, over-the-counter cold meds and even an odd topical 
cream from 1983.

"It's anything and everything," Layton police evidence supervisor Holly 
Plotnick said as she and a co-worker transferred 28 pounds of 
medications into a garbage bag and readied it for the incinerator.

The program is one of dozens around the country as communities ramp up 
efforts to clean out America's medicine cabinets by setting up 
drop-boxes or other disposal methods for people to dump their unused and 
expired prescription drugs. At least 20 states now have collection 
programs for unused medications, and several saw record hauls in 2009.

Many of the programs were initially motivated by concerns about flushed 
pharmaceuticals reaching drinking water supplies. A 2008 Associated 
Press investigation found at least 46 million Americans are supplied 
with drinking water that has tested positive for traces of 

The programs are also surging for another reason: prescription drug 
overdoses. Utah, for instance, saw a 500 percent jump in the number of 
deaths attributed to pain medications between 1999 and 2007.

"A lot of the pharmaceuticals sold on the street or consumed by young 
people come out of home medicine cabinets," said Terry Keefe, chief of 
police in Layton, a city of 65,000. "This is one attempt to reduce the 
availability of these type of drugs."

The police department's medication dropbox in Layton - one of 37 in 
police stations across Utah - took in 738 pounds in 2009. The box 
sometimes takes just days to fill up.

The drugs are a concern because of their threat to the environment, too. 
Researchers also have found evidence that even extremely diluted 
concentrations of pharmaceutical residues can harm fish, frogs and other 
aquatic species in the wild.

Advocates say the 90 or so take-back programs across the country are a 
good start but not well-funded enough to expand to a mass scale. Some 
are floating legislation to have pharmaceutical companies foot the bill, 
modeling the idea on similar state laws requiring electronics 
manufacturers to cover the costs of recycling TVs and computers.

"The biggest barrier to the takebacks is funding," said Scott Cassel, 
director of the Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute, which works 
with governments and others on environmental issues. "None of these 
states or local governments really have the money to take an action that 
will fully resolve the environmental issues or reduce that impact."

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says regulatory 
agencies have already established ways to safely dispose of drugs in the 
household trash. The group has generally been dismissive of take-back 
programs, saying that collecting drugs in one place raises the risk that 
they might be stolen and misused.

Forcing pharmaceutical manufacturers into a take-back program would 
likely drive up costs for patients, the group says.

"These costs can be avoided if patients dispose of medicines in the 
household trash, which can be done in compliance with federal laws and 
is environmentally responsible," according to a statement from senior 
vice president Ken Johnson.

The drop-off programs include a mail-in program in Maine that has 
collected 2,000 pounds since 2007, a six-county effort in Washington 
state involving pharmacies and clinics where 35,000 pounds have been 
collected over three years, and three collection stations in Palo Alto, 
Calif. The Palo Alto stations are rarely advertised, but more than 5,400 
pounds were dropped off last year.

"This is an issue that will not go away," said Len Kaye, who runs 
Maine's program and noted similar widespread take-back programs for 
tires and mercury thermometers. "There is no reason in the world we 
could not and should not do the same for unused pharmaceuticals."

In Utah, where police station collection bins have netted some 5,000 
pounds since 2007, it's clear residents have been hoarding medicines for 

"People literally come in with boxes and bags," says Leah Ann Lamb, who 
helps coordinate the state's programs.

The oldest and strangest? A 1958 bottle with a label that only said "For 
achy legs."

Strict rules governing certain substances, especially narcotics, can 
limit the type of drugs that can be included in the take-back programs. 
Pending legislation in Congress would change handling protocols for 
certain controlled substances. Some states, including Washington and 
Maine, will consider legislation to have pharmaceutical companies pay 
for the take-back programs.

Advocates say that's the only way large-scale take-back programs can 
take hold.

"We do know that there are significant amounts of meds that go unused 
and for most locations there is no safe and secure place to take them," 
said Cheri Grasso, who helps run King County's pharmaceuticals project 
in Seattle.


U.S. EPA Takes Action Against Sacramento Food Distributor Following 
Chemical Waste Discharges
Release date: 01/19/2010

Contact Information: Media Contact: Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270, 

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken 
action against Sacramento based Tony's Fine Foods in order to correct 
environmental violations and bring the company into compliance with 
federal law. Under the terms of a settlement Tony's Fine Foods has 
agreed to pay a $93,533 penalty. 

In October 2008, Tony=92s Fine Foods leaked approximately 360 gallons of 
anhydrous ammonia into the air from a pressure relief valve at its 
California Cold Logistics cold storage warehouse, located at 700 Jones 
Street, in Yuba City, Calif. The ammonia release resulted in the 
evacuation of four nearby schools and nearly 30 Yuba City residences. 

=93We=92re thankful no one was seriously hurt,=94 said Daniel Meer, 
assistant director for the Superfund program in EPA=92s Pacific 
Southwest region. =93Failing to provide critical information to the 
appropriate authorities can diminish the community's ability to respond 
during an emergency.=94 

In January 2009, the facility again violated federal law by illegally 
discharging about 35 gallons of ammonia into a storm drain that 
discharges to Gilsizer Slough. The release was detected by residents 
several blocks away. When the fire department responded, the strong 
smell eventually led investigators to the California Cold Logistics 
facility. Dumping ammonia down a storm drain is prohibited under the 
federal Clean Water Act.

=93The inadequate controls exercised by this facility resulted in 
unacceptable discharges of toxic pollutants to Gilsizer Slough, which 
flows to the Sutter Bypass and the Feather River," said Alexis Strauss, 
regional director of EPA's water division in San Francisco.

In both instances, Tony's Fine Foods failed to immediately notify 
authorities following their chemical releases. EPA inspectors visited 
the facility following the first release and provided facility 
representatives information on release reporting requirements. 

The enforcement action addresses several violations of the Comprehensive 
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, the Emergency 
Planning and Community Right to Know Act and the Clean Water Act. The 
proposed penalty under the Clean Water Act currently is available for 
public comment until January 21, 2010. 

Following EPA=92s involvement, the facility has achieved compliance with 
reporting requirements and completed operational improvements to prevent 
future discharges.

Exposure to ammonia can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. 
Lung damage and death may occur after exposure to very high 
concentrations of ammonia.

For more information please visit:

The public notice is hosted online at:


Clarksville teens cited in bottle bomb explosion along River Run

A back yard prank Sunday night ended with an explosion that rocked the 
River Run Road neighborhood.

At about 9:20 p.m., officers responded to a report of shots fired on the 
street, according to a news release from Clarksville Police spokesman 
Officer Jim Knoll.

When officers arrived, they found that four two-liter plastic bottles 
had been filled with chemicals, sealed and thrown into a back yard.

"The chemical mixture of the ingredients caused an explosive reaction, 
which rocked the neighborhood," Knoll said.

Officer Scott Jackson investigated and found that Clay Elliot Purvis, 
18, and three juveniles had set off the explosion as a prank on a 

Purvis was cited and released for prohibited weapons and contributing to 
delinquency. The three juveniles =97 two 16 and one 17 =97 were cited 
for prohibited weapons and released to their parents.

Gas Station Robbed On Wilma Rudolph

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