I completely agree with Reinhard. My additions: There is a possibility of sudden storage shelves collapse due to high acid/base corrosion, if the shelves are not maintained well.
I don't think that the safety system worked. Chemical storage cabinets are not designed to contain explosions. For containment of unstable, potentially explosive materials, an explosion resistant room, with pressure relieving walls is required.
As others have stated the involved material was possibly unstable or chemically incompatibles were stored together. This speaks to the education of the owner about chemical storage safety issues, and the adequacy of the chemical safety audit program of the institution - to check chemical storage practices.
And as to the need to have fans to exhaust gases and fumes from the building, was there not the capacity to change the lab HVAV system from its normal return/recycle mode over to exhaust directly to the outside. This would place the involved space under negative pressure, avoiding spread of the gases/fumes/smoke to uninvolved spaces? Also, was the lab space HVAC system separate from the HVAC system servicing the hallway, offices, and support spaces? This would further limit the spread of airborne hazards support and allow for safer exit of building occupants.
Reinhard Sidor, ScD
Safety & Hygiene - retired
GE Global Research
Sent from my iPad
On Apr 17, 2015, at 10:59 AM, George D. McCallion <medchem**At_Symbol_Here**COMCAST.NET> wrote:
From what I could decipher, it seems like a possible delayed exotherm from a storage container (flask, bottle). What was the material, etc.? Cannot say at this point, and speculation would be moot.
It does seem that the cabinetry did perform effectively, which is always a good thing.
The vapors identified may not have been emulating from the point-of-incidence; hopefully a follow up will be forthcoming that we can all read and discuss.
Thanks for posting this, Dean.
From: "Dean Lillquist" <lillquistd**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Friday, April 17, 2015 9:55:11 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] University of Utah Chemistry Building - small explosion
The take-home message from them:
Overall, he said, the safety measures that were in place did what they were designed to do.
"The cabinet did its job," he said. "It's proof that those safety measures work."
I would like to seen their after action investigation report.
Their engineering controls did appear to work. But-
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
I wonder about their administrative controls in place - especially their chemical storage and inventory program.
I might speculate a chemical storage issue: incompatibility and/or chemical expiration issue.
If this was the root cause, it would have been preventable.
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