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Friday chemical safety round-up

Chemical health and safety news from the past week:

  • It’s the Rheo Thing reflected further on a possibly chemophobic grant reviewer: Poorly posed concerns about chemical safety
  • Lab coat art appeared at Pittcon
  • The Chemical Safety Board will hold a public meeting on April 19 in Buffalo, NY, to present its findings in an investigation into an explosion involving a welder and a vinyl fluoride tank at a DuPont plant

Fires and explosions:

  • A fire in a tank at RPM Wood Finishes Group in North Carolina injured one worker; the company makes wood and industrial metal finishing coatings
  • A lithium battery explosion at a General Motors plant in Michigan injured two employees; “The explosion occurred during extreme testing of an experimental battery in a test chamber at the Alternative Energy Center laboratory” and “‘Chemical gases from the battery cells were released and ignited in the enclosed chamber,’ GM said. ‘The battery itself was intact.’”
  • At a Mercury Marine plant in Wisconsin, “employees poured alloy-melted molten aluminum” and then “melted aluminum shot 25 feet to the ceiling and ignited fine dust particles, which then drafted into the exhaust system”; no one was injured
  • Sodium chlorite burst into flame when it was being repackaged at NW Chemical Recycling in Washington; the fire led to the discovery of two old trucks containing more than 3,000 chemical containers containing mercury, mildly radioactive uranium, and sodium metal, among other things
  • “Excessive gas” in a chemical tank blew off the top and caused a fire in Pakistan
  • A methanol fire in a chemistry classroom injured a student at a Hawaii high school

Leaks, spills, and other exposures:

  • Gallium trichloride fumes were released at metal products manufacturer 5NPlus in Connecticut
  • Methyl bromide leaked when workers were using it to fumigate a Graincorp Carrington terminal in Australia
  • A University of Cincinnati graduate student was reportedly injured in “a toxic chemical explosion” while etching aluminum alone at 1 a.m.; here’s the university’s description of the event (the moral, as usual: wear your PPE!):

    UCPD and CFD were dispatched to ERC shortly before 1AM today for a chemical spill. A grad student working with acid (to etch aluminum) had spilled about ½ liter. The researcher was using PPE, but believed they may have gotten some acid on their arms when they removed the PPE. They were examined and released at University Hospital. The building was evacuated while the Fire Dept. evaluated the situation and then re-occupied when it was determined there was no risk to others in the building. EH&S was notified and responded in to handle the clean-up.

  • A capsule labeled “sarin” was discovered in western Russia

Not covered: meth labs; ammonia leaks; incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals; transportation spills; and fires from oil, natural gas, or other fuels.

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