Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2010 08:06:05 -0500
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Subject: 6 Chemical Safety news stories from Google


Chemical spill causes Shepherd laboratories evacuation
No one was seriously injured in the accident.
PUBLISHED: 01/20/2010
An acid spill in the University of Minnesota Shepherd laboratories on 
Union Street SE caused emergency responders to close a floor of the 
building last night.

Approximately two liters of hydrochloric acid were spilled in the 
hallway near one of the labs on the fourth floor of the building, said 
Dawn Errede, a University Environmental Health and Safety public health 

Four people involved in the spill, including two who were in the lab, 
were brought by an ambulance to a University hospital as a precaution, 
according to a spokesman for the Minneapolis fire department.

However, they did not appear to be injured.

=93This is kind of a medium to small event on the scale of spills around 
the University,=94 Errede said. =93I mean, its research. Stuff happens.=94

A 911 call reporting a smell alerted emergency responders to the 
situation. About a dozen fire, police and emergency vehicles responded 
and lined Union Street.

The acid was of unknown strength. Firefighters deposited soda ash on the 
chemical to neutralize it, and closed the floor.

=93It=92s a little more serious because it was out in the hallway and 
then we have less control of where the chemical vapors go,=94 Errede 
said, =93but it=92s confined to the floor, it=92s something you can 
neutralize, and the firefighters have neutralized it.=94


Experts, agencies still cleaning up chemicals from Chena Ridge explosion
by Chris Freiberg / cfreiberg**At_Symbol_Here**newsminer.com1 day 3 hrs ago | 3534 views 
| 36  | 8  |  | 

FAIRBANKS =97 Authorities say there is still a risk of another explosion 
occurring at a Chena Ridge home where a hazardous materials clean up 
operation has been underway for more than a week, and they do not know 
how long it will take to remove the dangerous substances found there.

Alaska State Troopers have been leading a multi-agency investigation at 
the home since Jan. 10 when an explosion injured Dane Koponen, 20. The 
grandson of former state Rep. Niilo Koponen, he was able to walk to the 
nearby fire station for help and was later transported to Seattle for 
treatment of serious burns.

Troopers say the home was not the site of a methamphetamine lab, but 
they discovered =93chemicals, chemical compounds, mixtures, dangerous 
substance and unidentified/suspected dangerous substances located 
throughout the residence,=94 according to a press release from the 
Fairbanks North Star Borough.

While some readily identifiable materials have been safely removed from 
the home and destroyed, samples of other chemicals have been sent off to 
labs for further analysis and identification.

=93Evaluation and cleanup of the site has been hampered by cold 
temperatures, the potential for fire and explosion and the fact that the 
site is littered with dozens of glass, plastic and metal containers 
filled with potentially dangerous compounds in powder, liquid and 
crystalline form,=94 according to the borough.

Sallie Stuvek, chief of staff for the borough mayor, said that some of 
the materials already identified at the Koponen residence include 
fertilizer, battery acid and ethanol.

There is a continuing investigation into the possible violation of state 
or federal laws connected to the possession or manufacturing of 
hazardous chemicals or explosives, according to the borough.

The statement reads that there is an unknown quantity of dangerous 
chemicals still at the home and notes the chemicals were stored in an 
unsafe manner.

=93 ... The potential for additional explosions is unknown but 
considered to be a real threat,=94 according to the borough.

Troopers have had three meetings with borough emergency services this 
week to come up with a plan in case of another emergency at the home. 
Other agencies that have been called in to help with investigation and 
clean up include the FBI, the ATF, the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug 
Enforcement and the Air Force=92s Explosives Ordinance Disposal Team.

Capt. Burke Barrick, commander of the Fairbanks trooper detachment, said 
that a private contractor or some other government agency from the Lower 
48 may need to be called in to remove dangerous materials from the Chena 
Ridge home.

=93We=92re proceeding very deliberately, and we=92re waiting for 
information from people in laboratories on how to proceed,=94 said 
Barrick, who called the situation at the home =93unusual.=94

However, Barrick stressed that authorities are hoping to conduct the 
clean up operation without inconveniencing Koponen=92s neighbors. He 
downplayed any danger to those in the area.

=93Frankly, the danger is in the cabin, not necessarily to people 
outside of the cabin,=94 he said.

New Zealand

Chain reaction causes Palmerston North chemical fire
NZPA Last updated 17:17 22/01/2010

A chemical fire in Palmerston North today was probably caused by a 
chemical chain reaction due to rain, the Fire Service says.

The fire in a chemical dumping area on Works Rd in Longburn was about 
four metres by four metres, Palmerston North fire station officer Ian 
Penn said.

It took several appliances about an hour to put it out from a distance, 
after a call came in about the blaze at 11am, he said.

Officers then carried out basic decontamination.

It was not know what the chemicals were, Mr Penn said.



I-75 lane closures caused by acid leak expected through morning

Fines unlikely in spill that closed I-75, hazmat officials say

I-75 lane closures expected through morning Jan 20

By Steve Bennish and Anthony Gottschlich
Staff Writers

HARRISON TWP., Montgomery County =97 It could be mid-morning Thursday, 
Jan. 21, before all lanes of Interstate 75 north reopen because of the 
chemical spill from a semi-trailer Wednesday night that led to an 
hours-long shut down of the north and south lanes, an official said.

At 8:53 p.m., Jan. 20, authorities were trying to reopen one northbound 
lane within the hour, said Denny Bristow, coordinator of the Dayton 
Regional Hazardous Materials Unit.

He explained that 100 to 300 gallons of run-off from waste material 
aboard the semi-trailer would have to be sopped up and the vehicle would 
have to be towed from the interstate before that could happen.

Bristow said hazmat workers traced the leak to a 300-gallon container of 
sulfuric acid, but they were still not clear how the leak began. The 
Ohio Highway Patrol and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will be 
investigating, he said.

According to a preliminary investigation, the semi-trailer loaded with 
hydrochloric, sulfuric and phosphoric acids left West Carrollton from 
Veolia ES Technical Solutions on Wednesday afternoon enroute to Michigan 
when it was pulled over by a trooper around 5:15 p.m.

About 6:10 p.m., a green cloud released by unknown amounts of the acids 
was drifting across I-75 from east to west, said patrol Lt. Bill Peck, 
who called the cloud a health hazard.

He advised people to stay clear of the area from north at Needmore Road 
to the south at Wagoner Ford Road on I-75.

The driver of the semi got out unharmed, Peck said.

Authorities ordered about 50 employees to evacuate their aerospace 
company=92s plant near the scene of the spill.

A man who wouldn=92t give his name, but identified himself as plant 
manager for Lord Corporation A P D, 4688 Wadsworth Road near Needmore 
Road, said employees were sent home shortly after 7:30 p.m.

As of 8 p.m., it didn=92t appear that all businesses or households in 
the area had been ordered to do the same. A front desk clerk with the 
Ramada Plaza on Wagoner Ford Road said the hotel had received no such 
evacuation orders.

At 8:30 p.m., it appeared that traffic on I-75 south had resumed as 
authorities were dealing with a wreck involving a Jeep and a 
semi-trailer near Benchwood Drive.

Wednesday evening, Veolia officials said the semi-truck was enroute to a 
disposal facility for wastewater treatment when a trooper noticed a 
=93small vapor=94 coming from the back of the trailer and pulled the 
vehicle over, suspecting a locked-up brake.

Curtis Mabry, spokesman for Veolia=92s parent company in Chicago, said 
it=92s not yet clear what caused a container to leak.

=93We do inspect all of the containers, and it=92s actually done in 
several stages before offered for shipment,=94 Mabry said. =93In each of 
those inspections we found the integrity to be sound on all of the 
containers in there.=94

Veolia=92s West Carrollton plant was the site of an explosion in May 
last year that sent four workers to hospitals and caused about $50 
million in damage.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company 
$109,000 for what the agency said were =93serious violations of federal 
workplace health and safety standards.=94

Mabry said the company, whose Web sit calls it the largest waste 
services company in the world, would be =93very deliberate=94 in its 
investigation of the leak.

=93This is our expertise but unfortunately incidents can happen,=94 he 
said. =93We=92ll investigate and do our best to prevent it in the 

Bristrow said the rest of the containers aboard the trailer would be 
loaded into another trailer and sent back to Veolia for evaluation.


United Kingdom
Guests evacuated after hotel chemical leak
21 January 2010
Georgia Graham

TWO people were rushed to hospital after a chemical leak at a Paddington 
hotel on Sunday. 

Guests were evacuated from the Best Western Shaftesbury Paddington Court 
hotel on Devonshire Terrace after ammonia was reported leaking from a 
refrigerator in a first floor hotel room. 

Firefighters wearing gas-tight suits and gas masks entered the evacuated 
first floor of the hotel and removed the fridge at 2.30am.

They took the appliance outside, because the danger from ammonia is 
significantly reduced in the open air. 

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson, said they were called at 3.20am 
and treated two people who were taken to St Mary's Hospital in 

A spokesman from Best Western said: "Two floors of the hotel were 
evacuated as a precaution. 

"These guests were allowed back in the hotel shortly afterwards. Two 
guests were taken to a local hospital as a precaution and were 
discharged the following morning.

"A health officer from Westminster Council attended the hotel this 
morning and was happy with his findings stating that all correct 
procedures had been applied.

"The fridge in question is only one year old and all mini bar fridges 
have been removed as a precaution until further notice."

One couple who were leaving the hotel after a weekend stay at the hotel 
were shocked that they had not been evacuated or even informed of the 

Rick Morris, 39, from Melksham, Wiltshire, said: "We've just checked out 
and we weren't told anything about it. We only got back at 1am, which 
means we were up and about quite late and they saw us come in. You would 
think they could have told us just in case."

His wife Sharon Morris, 44, also from Melksham, added: "I absolutely 
should have been told. It's really scary. If people are ill and in 
hospital and they are removing fridges from people's rooms it's 
obviously quite serious.

"We had a fridge in our room and no one bothered to check that or 
anything, and this is supposed to be one of the better hotels around 

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: "We were called at 02.31 on Sunday 
morning and the end of the incident came in at 04.12. A domestic fridge 
with a confirmed ammonia leak was removed from a room on the first floor 
to an outside area. 

"The room was ventilated and 30 people from the first and second floor 
rooms were evacuated."

Ammonia poisoning is not thought to be life-threatening but exposure to 
high concentrations can cause severe burns on skin, eyes, throat, and 

In extreme cases, blindness, lung damage or death can occur, but 
breathing lower concentrations only causes coughing and nose and throat 

Although ammonia is still in use in large industrial processes such as 
bulk ice-making and industrial food processing, it is now rarely found 
in modern domestic fridges.


New York

Teacher recovering; cause of blast uncertain
Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010


BOICEVILLE =97 The explosion on Tuesday that injured an Onteora High 
School chemistry teacher and seven of his students came as a surprise to 
everyone, but probably no one more than the longtime teacher himself.

Donald Bucher was demonstrating an experiment with the chemical 
potassium chlorate when the explosion =97 which was strong enough to 
damage a window in the classroom =97 occurred. Onteora school district 
Superintendent Leslie Ford said on Wednesday that Bucher had conducted 
the same experiment dozens of times before, without incident, and that 
the cause of the explosion remained a mystery.

Ford said Bucher was resting at home on Wednesday, recovering from his 
injury, and that an investigation of the incident will begin shortly.

=93We still don=92t know what happened,=94 the superintendent said. =93But
 we will debrief Mr. Bucher when he is well enough to return.=94

Ford said a small piece of glass punctured Bucher=92s arm and cut an 
artery. =93He was bleeding quite a lot,=94 she said.

A reporter=92s calls to Bucher=92s home were not answered on Wednesday.

The seven students who were injured, all 11th-graders, were treated at 
Kingston and Benedictine hospitals, primarily for minor cuts, and 

Ford said the explosion occurred when Bucher dropped a stick of gum into 
a test tube containing potassium chlorate, a chemical used in matches, 
explosives, gunpowder and fireworks.

Ford said school district officials reviewed the chemistry class=92 
lesson plan and concluded the experiment had been performed safely by 
Bucher in the past. She also said it is a standard high school chemistry 
experiment and that Bucher executed each of its steps properly on 

=93The goal of the experiment was to determine the amount of oxygen in 
the potassium chlorate,=94 Ford said.

The superintendent said possible causes of the accident were a faulty 
test tube or the chemical itself being compromised.

All the remaining potassium chlorate in the classroom was removed, 
bagged locked in a secure location elsewhere in the building by Michael 
O=92Rourke of the Risk Management Department at Ulster BOCES, Ford said.

O=92Rourke said on Wednesday that the chemical will be disposed of 
properly and other chemicals in the school will be checked for problems.

According to a Web site co-maintained by the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, potassium chlorate is a white crystalline 
solid. It is used in matches, explosives, gunpowder and fireworks; as a 
disinfectant; and as an oxidizing agent. It forms a flammable mixture 
with combustible materials, and the mixture can be explosive if 
combustible material is finely divided.

Potassium chlorate can be ignited by friction, and contact with strong 
sulfuric acid may cause fires or explosions, according to the Web site. 
Also, it may spontaneously decompose and ignite when mixed with ammonium 
salts and may explode under prolonged exposure to heat or fire.

Ulster County Emergency Management Director Art Snyder appeared before 
the Onterora Board of Education during the body=92s regularly scheduled 
meeting Tuesday evening. He outlined the procedures for hazardous 
materials disposal, though Ford noted the procedures were not required 
in Tuesday=92s incident.


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