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SpaceX blames chemical leak for 'anomaly' that destroyed Crew Dragon capsule
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - SpaceX said a chemical leak was behind the anomaly that destroyed a Crew Dragon spacecraft in April, according to a news release. 

The anomaly happened at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on April 20, sending large plumes of smoke into the sky. 

Since then, SpaceX and NASA have been working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Air Force to figure out what went wrong.

In a news release, the company said it was due to a leaking part. 
us_FL  industrial  follow-up  environmental  other_chemical 
yesterday by dchas
Otago Daily Times Online News
South Dunedin business evacuations and exploding unstable chemicals may be seen as a "dramatic response" by some, but emergency services insist it was worth it to ensure public safety.
A small package of hydrazine monohydrate was detonated in Glasgow St by the New Zealand Defence Force at 9.30am yesterday.

The chemical was found in an unstable condition by a laboratory manager at Dunedin probiotics manufacturer Blis Technologies on Thursday.
New_Zealand  laboratory  follow-up  environmental  hydrazine 
4 days ago by dchas
Duluth may harden stance against hydrogen fluoride
On Monday, the Duluth City Council will take up a resolution formally requesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take another look at safety concerns that have swirled around the continued use of hydrogen fluoride at refineries, such as the Husky Energy plant that exploded April 26, 2018. The ensuing blaze forced the evacuation of a large portion of Superior, as crews worked to get the fire under control and prevent any escape of the gaseous chemical, which can quickly penetrate and damage human tissues, causing blindness and even death. A follow-up investigation indicated that no hydrogen fluoride was released that day.

Yet both Duluth Mayor Emily Larson and Superior Mayor Jim Paine called on Husky to discontinue its use of hydrogen fluoride in the wake of the incident.

Nevertheless, Husky Energy Inc. announced in April of this year its intentions to resume operations with hydrogen fluoride still in the mix when its Superior refinery is ready to come back on line.
us_MN  industrial  follow-up  environmental  hydrofluoric_acid 
5 days ago by dchas
UH researcher who lost an arm in lab explosion fighting two battles
Three years after losing part of her arm in a lab explosion at UH, Thea Ekins-Coward continues to struggle with what happened.

But she’s fighting on two fronts. One to get her life and career back. The other is a legal battle against the university.

Her attorney says Ekins-Coward has struggled to get a job, much less just doing everyday things. She has a long way to go and her legal battle can take just as long.

In March 2016, a powerful explosion inside a laboratory rocked a building at the UH Manoa campus. HFD determined that a wrong pressure gauge was used, which caused a spark that led to the explosion.

Ekins-Coward, a postdoctoral fellow was in that lab and lost part of her right arm. Her attorney says she has since moved back home to England and has struggled with getting her life back.

“She still is very traumatized by the event, it distresses her to speak about it still and she still can’t do a lot of things,” said attorney Claire Choo.
us_HI  laboratory  follow-up  injury  other_chemical 
6 days ago by dchas
Firefighters Had Increased Chemicals in Systems After Tubbs Fire: Study
A new study released Tuesday details the health impacts on firefighters who battled one of California's most destructive wildfires.

The study focuses on firefighters who fought the Tubbs Fire, which scorched 36,807 acres, wiped out 5,636 structures and left 22 people dead in Napa and Sonoma counties back in the fall of 2017.

Nearly 150 firefighters volunteered to take part in the study, which was led by the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation. The foundation decided to put together the study citing concerns about the level of toxic chemical exposure firefighters faced.

Firefighters who participated in the study provided information ranging from their length of service to the amount of times they washed their hands before eating. The study also sampled blood and urine from firefighters who fought the Tubbs Fire.

Study to Detail Health Impact of Tubbs Fire on Firefighters
A new study detailing the health impact of one of California's most destructive wildfires on firefighters who battled the blaze is expected to be released Tuesday. Pete Suratos reports.(Published Tuesday, July 9, 2019)
Some firefighters who battled the wildfires during the 2017 North Bay firestorm have called the blazes the West Coast version of 9/11. According to the Press Democrat, most of the firefighters used lighter, less restrictive wildland firefighting gear instead of heavy air tanks and face masks that could have eliminated exposure to toxic fumes from the hazardous fuels and chemicals that burned.

The most troubling chemicals found in the study are also found in firefighting foam and in the fire resistant clothing firefighters wear.

SFFD Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson said testing was also done after the Camp Fire. The results are expected back soon and will be shared with other fire departments.
us_CA  industrial  follow-up  environmental  toxics 
7 days ago by dchas
EPA fines Londonderry cold storage company for Clean Air Act violations
LONDONDERRY — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settled with Londonderry Freezer Warehouse LLC in Londonderry for alleged chemical safety violations, the EPA announced Tuesday.

Under the terms of the settlement, the cold storage company spent over $215,000 in facility upgrades that bring it into compliance with Clean Air Act requirements and another $78,200 in fines.

According to the EPA, the company had inadequate alarms and ventilation, rusted valves, insufficient access to emergency controls and other deficiencies. The regulations apply to facilities that use anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration and have systems with less than 10,000 pounds of ammonia.

“The company fully cooperated with EPA’s New England regional office and has certified that they are now in compliance with the Clean Air Act,” the EPA said in a news release.
us_NH  industrial  follow-up  environmental  ammonia 
7 days ago by dchas
We were first to smelt chromium. And then the fire happened
Sault Ste. Marie’s Chromium Mining and Smelting Corporation plant was located on Queen Street West between Huron and Hudson, in the area of what is now the city’s transit facility. 

The plant first began smelting chromium in in the 1930s, when it was the first instance of chromium smelting in the British Empire. From there, the plant quickly expanded to meet demand.

And then, in 1947, a fire roared through part of Sault Ste. Marie, originating from the plant.

Initial reports in the Globe and Mail described a “terrific blast” that “rocked the city,” shaking buildings as far away as eight blocks. However, it was soon determined that there was no explosion at all: instead, it was a chemically-fed, incredibly violent fire.

The chemical in question was D-Sulf-X, a substance presumably used in the plant’s experimental laboratory, where the fire initially started. D-Sulf-X was “believed to burn with greater intensity in water,” proving a challenge for firefighters. The fire chief was quoted in the Sault Star as saying that, “It was impossible to put the fire out . . . and all we could do was to prevent the flames from spreading.”
Canada  laboratory  follow-up  environmental  other_chemical 
9 days ago by dchas
New York City student awarded $60 million after failed chemical rainbow demonstration
A New York City jury has awarded almost $60 million to the family of a student who was severely injured in a failed rainbow flame demonstration in 2014.

“The message this [verdict] should send is safety first,” says lawyer Ben Rubinowitz, who represented student Alonzo Yanes and his family. “I hope that no child is ever injured again” by this experiment.

Yanes was a 16-year-old sophomore at Beacon High School, a public school in New York City, when his chemistry teacher, Anna Poole, successfully performed the procedure. Then she attempted to restart it by adding more methanol from a 1 gal container, which ignited. Yanes was standing 75 cm away and sustained burns to 30% of his body, including disfiguring scars to his face, ears, neck, arms, and hands, Rubinowitz says. Another student was also injured in the fire and settled with the city.

Just a month before the incident, the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board warned about the hazards of the rainbow experiment, which has caused dozens of accidents and injuries through the years. Poole “took a shortcut, and you can’t take shortcuts when it comes to safety,” Rubinowitz says. Poole, who had taught chemistry for several years, now works for the city’s department of education advising other teachers.

Other students have won lawsuits after being injured in rainbow experiment accidents, though award amounts have been much lower. The jury awarded Yanes almost $60 million to address pain and suffering both since the accident and into the future. Rubinowitz says Yanes, now 21, is in college.

Nick Paolucci, press secretary for the New York City Law Department, says that the safety of students is the department of education’s top priority, and that the experiment has been banned as a result of the accident. “While we respect the jury’s verdict, we are exploring our legal options to reduce the award to an amount that is consistent with awards that have been upheld by the courts in similar cases.”
us_NY  education  follow-up  injury  methanol 
14 days ago by dchas
OIL AND GAS: Pa. refinery: Who will clean up decades of pollution? -- Monday, July 1, 2019 -- www.eenews.net
The explosions that destroyed part of the historic oil refinery on Philadelphia's south side have thrown a wrench into the ongoing effort to clean up decades' worth of soil and water pollution at the site.

Sunoco Inc., the plant's former owner, agreed to clean up the contamination in the early 2000s, and it agreed to continue that effort after it sold the operation to a partnership known as Philadelphia Energy Solutions in 2012.

The blasts on June 21 did so much damage that the new owners announced they'll likely close the refinery, the biggest on the East Coast (Greenwire, June 26).

That leaves city, state and federal officials to oversee what will likely become a two-track cleanup involving two different companies. For now, Sunoco's effort to clean up the historical pollution is on hold because of the fire and explosions.

Officials at EPA and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were scrambling last week to figure out what responsibility Philadelphia Energy Solutions and other parties bear for environmental problems caused by the fire. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said the site is so unstable that its investigators haven't been able to inspect the damage (Greenwire, June 28).
us_PA  industrial  follow-up  environmental  petroleum 
15 days ago by dchas
$60 million awarded to New York student burned in high school chemistry class
A man has been awarded nearly $60 million in damages Monday, five years after a fire broke out in his high school chemistry class that left him deeply scarred.

Student Alonzo Yanes attended Beacon High School, a college-preparatory public school in Manhattan.

During a chemistry experiment led by teacher Anna Poole, the teen found himself in the middle of one of the worst classroom accidents in recent memory, the New York Times reported.

But instead of the intended chemical reaction, the class was suddenly engulfed in flames.

A federal agency warned against the dangers of the experiment just weeks before the accident occurred. The same experiment, which attempts to exemplify the color change that takes place when salt is exposed to methanol, has caused two other notable accidents over the last 15 years.
us_NY  education  follow-up  environmental  methanol 
15 days ago by dchas
United Farm Workers hold demonstration after recent hazmat incidents involving over 130 workers
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two dozen UFW members marched outside of the Fresno County Ag Commissioner's Office. They claim local ag commissioners aren't doing enough to investigate two incidents where farm laborers were exposed to pesticides.

"The ag commissioner has a responsibility, but we believe they have an inherent bias," said UFW Secretary-Treasurer Armando Elenes. "An inherent bias because not only are they charged with promoting agriculture but here they are supposedly investigating pesticide incidents so who are they really representing?"

Fresno County Assistant Ag Commissioner Rusty Lantsberger says worker protection goes hand in hand with enforcing pesticide laws.

"We're one family. We are a regulatory agency," he said. "We have a robust pesticide enforcement program and we are out and we are looking for violations and we are also making sure that the protocols and regulations are followed."
us_CA  industrial  follow-up  environmental  ag_chems 
18 days ago by dchas
CSB says policies will be re-examined after recent incident reports omit names of workers who died
Washington — The Chemical Safety Board will look into its recent decision to not include in its reports the names of workers who died in chemical incidents, the agency’s interim Executive Authority Kristen Kulinowski said during a June 25 public business meeting.

Kulinowski’s statement was made in response to two letters: One signed by a group of more than 50 advocates, including the executive directors of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, and another from United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities.

“I understand the concerns expressed by these organizations,” Kulinowski said. “I have directed our general counsel to come back to the board with a recommended course of action informed by laws, regulations, other federal government agency’s policies where there’s an investigative component and public reporting, and other relevant information.”

The letter from the group including National COSH claims CSB has listed the names of deceased workers in its reports since 2014. That was not the case in the agency’s recent final report on the 2018 blowout of the Pryor Trust gas well in Oklahoma that killed five workers. A June 25 report on a 2014 methyl mercaptan release at a DuPont plant in La Porte, TX, also didn’t include the names of the four workers who died.
us_DC  public  follow-up  environmental 
18 days ago by dchas
SoCal Gas Seeks to Block Report From Safety Investigation
(CN) – The Southern California Gas Company Tuesday asked a state utilities commission to exclude a damning report detailing the root causes of the 2015 Aliso Canyon methane blowout from the investigation of its safety culture, because a state employee who oversaw operations to close the leak contracted a rare form of cancer and is now suing the utility.

The state employee is one of thousands of plaintiffs suing SoCal Gas and its parent company in civil court over the leak that spewed 100,000 tons of methane into Southern California for 111 days beginning in October 2015.

The largest methane gas blowout in the history of the U.S. exposed thousands of residents to harmful chemicals and forced them to flee from their homes, but it is just one of several episodes troubling the California Public Utilities Commission, which ordered an investigation into SoCal Gas and its parent company’s prioritization of safety.

A report issued in May 2019 found that corroded pipes led to the blowout and detailed a lack of thorough safety inspects on a storage facility’s underground wells.

The site in northern Los Angeles County near Porter Ranch has not been properly maintained since the 1970s, according to the report. In 1988, an internal memo at the utility company recommended inspection of 20 wells to check on the condition of each well’s casing, but there was no overall review. One of those wells burst in 2015.

In the root cause analysis report authored by the third-party Blade Energy Partners and released by the California Public Utilities Commission last month, SoCal Gas was aware of prior leaks at its site but did not investigate.
us_ca  follow-up  industrial  injury  methane 
19 days ago by dchas
Philadelphia refinery that suffered huge explosion will shut down
The largest refinery on the East Coast is slated to close and be sold after a large explosion and fire almost a week ago devastated the Philadelphia complex.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions CEO Mark Smith said Wednesday that the company "made the difficult decision" to begin shutting down the facility, which is located directly within the city and near residential neighborhoods.

"While our teams include some of the most talented people in the industry, the recent fire at the refinery complex has made it impossible for us to continue operations," Smith added.
us_PA  industrial  follow-up  environmental 
20 days ago by dchas
3M admits to unlawful release of PFAS in Alabama
3M has voluntarily acknowledged to regulators that its Decatur, Alabama, plant illegally released a perfluorinated chemical to the Tennessee River, which supplies drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people.

The chemical is perfluorobutane sulfonamide (FBSA), which the company began to manufacture and use at the Decatur facility in 2009. As a condition of allowing manufacture of the substance under the US Toxic Substances Control Act, the Environmental Protection Agency prohibited 3M from releasing FBSA into US waterways.

3M says its Decatur plant may also have released a related chemical, a polyfluorinated sulfonamide alcohol, to the river as well. That substance, which 3M calls FBSEE, is a derivative of FBSA. It is also covered by the 2009 EPA order prohibiting release to water.

“We shut down the identified manufacturing operations and are completing internal changes to fully address the issue,” 3M says in a statement.


FBSA and FBSEE are intermediates used to make fluorochemical products, according to 3M, including water- and stain-resistant coatings. Data on the toxicity of FBSA and FBSEE wasn’t immediately available. The chemicals are in a class of environmentally persistent pollutants known as per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS).
us_AL  industrial  follow-up  environmental  other_chemical  illegal 
20 days ago by dchas
Beacon High chemistry teacher deflects blame for setting student on fire, but admits foggy memory
A Manhattan chemistry teacher who authorities say accidentally set her student on fire testified Tuesday that she wasn’t to blame.

Embattled educator Anna Poole struggled to explain why her testimony about the Jan. 2014 accident contradicted the recollection of Alonzo Yanes, the student disfigured in her Beacon High School classroom, as well as that of his classmates, experts, police officers and firefighters.

Trembling and stuttering, Poole insisted she’d properly conducted the “rainbow experiment” involving mineral salts, methanol and fire, just as she’d done for previous students. She said Yanes could not have been sitting a mere two and a half feet away from the demonstration, as he had testified.

“In your opinion did you perform the demonstration appropriately?” city attorney Mark Mixson asked.

“Yes,” Poole, 36, replied.

But attorney Ben Rubinowitz confronted her with sworn testimony she gave in the case in 2017. During a deposition, Poole had said she had no memory of the moments prior to the near-deadly chemical reaction, or any recollection of other times she performed the demonstration.

“We were trying to find out what in the world happened on Jan. 2, 2014,” Rubinowitz said.

“I’d like to know that, too,” Poole replied.
us_NY  laboratory  follow-up  environmental  methanol 
21 days ago by dchas
Philly refinery fire didn’t impact public health, officials say
Philadelphia, state and federal officials gathered Tuesday to assure city residents that the refinery explosion and fire that occurred Friday at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions complex did not result in any threats to the public health.

The city plans to form a working group that would include officials, residents, environmentalists, workers, and PES management to address issues at the plant. The city’s managing director Brian Abernathy said a public meeting will take place at the end of July.

“This incident sharpened a number of questions around the refinery,” Abernathy said. “Is the refinery safe? Does PES have appropriate measures in place to prevent a catastrophic failure? Was our response and the response of PES adequate and appropriate?”
us_PA  industrial  follow-up  environmental 
21 days ago by dchas
Here’s why AQMD committee chose enhanced safety measures over a ban on MHF at refineries in Wilmington and Torrance – Daily Breeze
Improved safety systems at two South Bay refineries are preferable to a phase-out and eventual ban of modified hydrofluoric acid, a subcommittee of the region’s air pollution watchdog has recommended.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District voted 3-2 over the weekend to recommend to the agency’s governing board they should support the option of signing a memorandum of understanding with each refinery in Torrance and Wilmington that will pave the way for more mitigation systems to reduce the risk of an accidental release of the toxic chemical.

A vote on the issue by the full AQMD governing board could come later this year.

That mirrors what the committee said in April 2018 when it rejected a ban of the chemical because of a lack of current alternatives to MHF.

“Everything we do in life has risks and what we try to do is manage that risk the best we can through training, through technology improvements,” committee chairman Larry McCallon, who is also mayor of the San Bernardino County community of Highland, said before the vote at the end of the all-day meeting.
us_CA  industrial  follow-up  environmental  hydrofluoric_acid 
22 days ago by dchas
Ithaca Fire Department urges safety with rechargeable batteries
A small blaze last week in East Hill has Ithaca Fire Department is urging residents to remember that rechargeable batteries in cell phones, laptops and toys can be dangerous. There are several precautions to keep in mind when using these devices.

Keep lithium-ion batteries dry. Any moisture can cause a malfunction.

Remove batteries from toys and electronics when they aren’t in use.

Batteries have an expiration date, just be sure to replace it upon expiration.

And most important of all, don't overheat the batteries or overcharge them. Pull the plug when the charge is done.

Leaving a device in the charger can overheat the battery, leading to chemical reactions that cause a fire, which could lead to a fire. Be sure to use the charges that comes specifically for that battery. Also, don’t place the batteries on beds, sofas, blankets, rugs or anything that could catch fire easily. Newer batteries have sensors, which will detect a problem if they turn off the battery to prevent a bigger problem. Older batteries may not, though.
us_NY  public  follow-up  response  batteries 
23 days ago by dchas
Air quality committee rejects ban on toxic acid used in South Bay refineries
Air quality officials on Saturday moved to close the door on a ban of a dangerous acid used at two South Bay oil refineries that community groups have sought since a 2015 explosion raised concerns about the potential for a catastrophic release.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Republican-controlled refinery committee voted 3-2 to support an industry-backed alternative. The plan directs agency staff to develop agreements with refineries in Torrance and Wilmington that would allow them to keep using modified hydrofluoric acid, with enhanced safety measures.

The highly toxic chemical, used to make high-octane gasoline, can form a deadly, ground-hugging cloud that could drift into surrounding communities and cause mass casualties in the event of a major leak.

The decision followed hours of testimony at a packed public hearing in Diamond Bar that pitted South Bay residents and environmentalists urging a ban on the chemical against business groups, building trades representatives and refinery workers who said it would be too costly.
us_CA  industrial  follow-up  environmental  hydrofluoric_acid 
24 days ago by dchas

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