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  • Rethinking hazmat as grant funding dries up
    Marion County Fire Rescue’s hazardous materials crews have responded to reports of a fishy white powder in local government offices three times within the past 18 months, including one incident in June that targeted 11 different locations on the same day. Ultimately, potential terrorism proved to be an unfunny prank because each time the substance was benign. While the importance of the high-profile targets in those three cases — schools, the courthouse, the Sheriff’s Office — garnered them considerable attention, hazmat responders roll to someone’s perceived emergency more often than many might think. On average, fire department records show, the county’s hazmat squad deploys about every other day, investigating and mitigating all types of situations — from industrial spills to petroleum leaks at car wrecks and from crystal meth labs to those mysterious white powders, which in one recent case turned out to be the flour at the bottom of a box of KFC biscuits. Fire department data also indicate that for 2014 the unit’s volume of calls has already reached roughly the same number as it did in each of the two prior years. But cutbacks in federal spending have county Fire Rescue officials rethinking and redirecting their hazmat mission, and as that occurs the burden on local taxpayers might get heavier, resources may be shifted from other services, or the county may have to rely on other agencies outside the community for aid, officials say.
  • DURHAM: Police investigate small explosion on board Durham bus
    DURHAM, N.C. - Police say a homemade chemical bomb exploded on board a commuter bus Tuesday night, forcing the closure of a portion of West Main Street in Durham. Police are investigating an explosion on board a Bull City Connector bus around 9:35 p.m. Police said the bus driver reported that a man got on the bus with a jug. When he got off, the jug exploded. Police are calling the explosion the result of a "Drano Bomb," which is a homemade chemical bomb. No one was injured but a passenger sitting near the explosion was treated on the scene for exposure.
  • Blasts blamed on hash oil lead to federal charges
    The chemical process used to make hash oil — a method so fraught with volatility that police compare it to making methamphetamine — has come under attack by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan’s office filed criminal charges against eight people in connection with recent explosions attributed to the manufacture of hash oil in Bellevue, Seattle, Kirkland and Puyallup. One case involved a massive explosion and fire at a Bellevue apartment complex in November that resulted in the death of former Bellevue Mayor Nan Campbell. While possession and consumption of hash oil are legal, Durkan said its manufacture is not. “Under state law, there is no legal way to make hash oil right now. Every one of these home systems is a violation of federal law and state law,” Durkan said during a news conference. “If you’re doing it you should stop.”
  • Blackfoot, Clark Fork rivers reopen after chemical spill
    MISSOULA, Mont. - The Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers near Missoula are now reopened after Missoula County health officials determined that the chemicals that spilled from a semitruck wreck into the Blackfoot River east of Bonner Tuesday morning are highly diluted and not hazardous. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks closed a 23-mile stretch of the Clark Fork and 13-mile stretch of the Blackfoot River while crews assessed the spill and potential public safety concerns.  Officials found the amount of chemicals spilled was small enough that it quickly dispersed and diluted. The driver of the truck told the Montana Highway Patrol his right front tire blew as he was rounding a corner at about 9:15 a.m. Tuesday. The truck ended up on its side. Missoula Rural Fire Acting Battalion Chief Paul Finlay says the chemicals appeared to be coming from containers of aluminum sulphate and diethanolamine, which are used in making detergents. Crews placed a boom on the river to contain the spill and worked to plug a drainage pipe that was carrying the spill from the ditch into the river.
  • Chemical Fire to Burn Itself Out in Williston
    A fire in east Williston has closed Highway 1804 and forced officials to recommend the evacuation of a half-mile area surrounding Red River Supply in east Williston. Williams County Emergency Manager Mike Hallesy says the fire broke out about midnight at Red River Supply and firefighters from Williston, Ray, and Epping have been on the scene all night. Hallesy says chemicals used in fracking are burning - and the decision has been made to let them burn themselves out. He says pouring water on the scene could just create a hazardous mix of materials that could run into the river. Hallesy says there were no injuries reported in the fire.
  • Chemical detection shuts public supply well
    State health and utility officials are puzzling over detections of toxic chemicals used to make nonstick, non-stain coatings in two Artesian Water supply wells in the New Castle area, findings that prompted a full shutdown of the water sources. One of the two perfluorinated chemicals involved was detected at up to nine times higher than a provisional level set by the EPA in 2009: perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The Wilmington Manor treatment plant shutdown was the latest in a periodic and costly run of contamination problems for Artesian Water, the state's largest residential supplier, and marked the state's first significant finding for PFOS or PFOA in a water supply. "I don't think anybody knows the source at this point," said Joseph A. DiNunzio, Artesian's executive vice president. "You never like to see that. We're on the hook for treatment here, entirely. Unfortunately, it becomes part of the cost of water for customers."
  • 10 jailed over China’s chemical explosion
    BEIJING—Chinese authorities on Monday detained 10 people after 43 died in a horrific weekend accident when a van carrying inflammable liquid hit a bus on a motorway, state media said. Police detained the group as part of an investigation into the “illegal transportation of hazardous chemicals”, a report by official news agency Xinhua said. The collision in central Hunan province early Saturday triggered a fire and explosion which destroyed five vehicles, it said. The death toll was previously reported to be 38. Another six people were injured in the accident, which involved a double-decker long-distance bus, with capacity for 53 occupants.
  • Police: Pair charged in meth blast tried to dispose chemicals
    Police say the couple who set fire to their Madison apartment complex with a meth lab explosion on Saturday tried to dispose of the burning chemicals, but only managed to cause more damage. Kelly Wakefield, 27, and her boyfriend Michael Drury, 22, told Fire Marshal investigators that they were inside the apartment making meth when the fire started. Police said Wakefield was seen running to a nearby dumpster just before the fire. A burned plastic bottle was found inside with a chemical police believe was hydrochloric acid. A battery casing and aluminum foil were also found in the dumpster. Wakefield told police she threw the burning items in the dumpster because she did not want anyone to find out that Drury had been living with her, according to her arrest warrant.
  • Chemical spill at Roanoke Co. packing company forces evacuation
    A metal packing company in Roanoke County was evacuated Monday afternoon after a chemical spill. Crews responded to a call about 2:30 p.m. at Ardagh Group in the 5000 block of Hollins Road regarding a chemical spill, said Roanoke County spokeswoman Jennifer Sexton. She said a forklift apparently hit a chemical storage tank in a contained room that is fire- and explosive-proof. The tanks hold about 275 gallons, but Sexton said about 85 gallons of hydrochloric acid leaked into the room. No one was injured, Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Capt. Don Altice said. The building was evacuated, and Altice said crews determined the area surrounding the facility is not in danger.
  • 5,000 gallons of diesel spill after 2 trains collide
    (CNN) -- Two trains collided in southeastern Wisconsin on Sunday night, causing 5,000 gallons of diesel to spill, a fire official said. Three engines and 10 rail cars derailed at a point where the tracks crossed, Slinger Fire Department Chief Rick Hanke said. Residents within a half-mile radius were evacuated due to concerns over the flammability of the diesel and contamination from the spill, Hanke said. More than 100 homes are in the evacuation zone. A conductor and an engineer suffered injuries that are not life-threatening, the fire chief said. The crash involved cars carrying sand and lumber. They came from CN and Wisconsin & Southern railroads.
  • CSB Investigation Finds No Record of Inspections on Freedom Industries Chemical Storage Tanks
    Charleston, West Virginia — In an update on the investigation into the chemical storage tank leak that contaminated the drinking water of up to 300,000 residents of nine West Virginia Counties, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) reported  it has thus far found no record of a formal, industry approved inspection performed on any of the chemical storage tanks at Freedom Industries prior to the massive leak which occurred on January 9, 2014.  Informal inspections may have occurred, preliminary findings indicate, but investigators have found a lack of appropriate engineering inspections with prescribed frequency and rigor of inspections. The CSB commissioned an inspection of tank 396 and similar tanks at Freedom Industries, scanning the tank interior and the surrounding topography of the river bank. Investigators oversaw the recent extraction of metal for metallurgical analysis. The investigation found that two small holes ranging in size from about 0.4-inch to 0.75-inch in the bottom of the 48,000-gallon tank 396 were caused by corrosion, likely resulting from water leaking through holes in the roof and settling on the tank floor. Furthermore, the CSB inspection found a similar hole penetrating the bottom of nearby tank 397, containing the same chemical at the facility, located in Charleston. Other tanks also showed multiple signs of pitting and metallurgical damage, investigators said. The growing corrosion in these tanks went unnoticed until the bottom of 396 was breached and up to an estimated 10,000 gallons of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), mixed with propylene glycol phenyl ethers, or PPH, made their way through the underlying mixture of soil and gravel under the facility and into the Elk River on January 9, 2014. 
  • HAZMAT crews cleaning up I81 in Wytheville, expect delays
    10:00 a.m. update: Wythe County Emergency Management officials say that a tractor and trailer hauling two Fed-Ex containers wrecked on the northbound side of Interstate 81 in Wytheville at mile marker 73.3. The accident occurred Saturday morning at the I-81 / I-77 split. According to first responders on scene, the wrecked cargo included paint, which spilled onto the roadway. Due to the fact that paint is flammable and harmful to the environment, Virginia HAZMAT officials are helping with the containment effort. We're told the public is not danger, however, responders on the scene say that traffic will be an issue for motorists traveling on the northbound side of I-81 throughout much of the day; crews will be working to clean up the spilled paint.
  • Aurora hazmat team retrieves pure sodium from house
    A woman who recently split up with a boyfriend called Aurora police late Saturday to report he had threatened to put pure sodium into the Aurora Reservoir, police said. Police sent a hazardous materials team to a home along East Fitzsimons Way near Interstate 225 to retrieve about 500 grams of a substance they said the unidentified woman claimed was pure sodium. In its purest form, sodium is a metal that can produce hydrogen gas and heat if in contact with water. Police said the woman claimed the ex-boyfriend obtained the substance from a hospital where he worked. In sufficient quantities, pure sodium can cause a fire.
  • CHARLESTON, W.Va.: $2.9M settlement proposed for chemical spill cases
    CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At least $2.9 million could fuel additional studies as part of a proposed settlement between West Virginia businesses and residents and the company that contaminated their water supply. A deal between lawyers for Freedom Industries and businesses and people who sued Freedom was filed Friday in Charleston federal court. It needs approval in both U.S. district and bankruptcy court. Attorney Anthony Majestro, representing some plaintiffs, says a board would decide what projects benefiting the public good would receive money. It is unclear who would be on the board. Long-term medical monitoring for the nine-county area is one possibility, he said. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's analysis, people visiting emergency rooms in the two weeks after the spill complained of various ailments, like nausea, rashes, skin irritation and vomiting.
  • Evacuation lifted after fire, chemical leak at Ont. food-processing plant
    TECUMSEH, ONTARIO — People evacuated homes and businesses this morning as a large fire consumed much of an industrial food-processing plant in this small town southeast of Detroit. A large smoke plume was visible from southeast Michigan after the fire started at roughly 2 a.m. at the Bonduelle plant surrounded by neighborhoods. At 9:30 a.m., people near the fire received messages declaring emergency evacuations because of a small ammonia leak, according to the Tecumseh Fire Rescue Service Twitter feed. The evacuation was lifted about 3½hours later. About an hour earlier, plant employees were standing west of the fire when the wind started pushing the smoke in that direction. The people scattered, as the smoke had a strong chemical smell. Evacuation centers were set up at Tecumseh Arena on McNorton Street and St. Joseph High School at McHugh and Clover streets in Windsor.
  • Alleged drunken driver causes hazmat situation
    LOWELL -- Lowell police say a 56-year-old city man was driving drunk at more than twice the legal limit Thursday afternoon on Thorndike Street when he allegedly slammed into the rear of a truck carrying hazardous waste triggering a hazardous materials incident during rush-hour traffic, prosecutors said. Police allege shortly before 4 p.m. a Lowell police officer was at the traffic light at the intersection of Thorndike Street and YMCA drive with a Triumvirate Environmental truck behind him when he heard a loud crash. A 2006 Toyota Tundra being driven by Thomas Crear was crushed and embedded into the rear of the Triumvirate truck. Police say Crear's truck began leaking fluids from the engine compartment Crear, who smelled of alcohol, allegedly told police he had been drinking. A portable blood alcohol test registered .18 -- more than twice the legal of limit of .08, according to court documents. The driver of the Triumvirate truck wanted to seek medical attention, but told police he couldn't leave because he was carrying hazardous waste and flammable materials in the back of his truck. Fortunately, his truck was not leaking any fluids.
  • Hazardous material cleaned up after sludge leak in Dartmouth
    Halifax regional firefighters dealt with a leaking drum of hazardous material in Dartmouth on Friday. The material, aluminum sludge, was oozing from a 45-gallon drum in the back of a truck on Neptune Crescent near Research Drive. Firefighters were called just before 11 a.m. about the contents of the drum having some kind of reaction and possibly being under pressure. “We don’t know exactly what happened or why there was any kind of reaction at all,” divisional commander Mike Blackburn said.
  • Thieves grab toxic chemical
    Thieves stole 25kg of a highly toxic and potentially lethal chemical from a property in Pokeno, Waikato overnight. Police believe the chemical was targeted because the thieves were under the false impression it could be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Police are ''highly concerned'' as the chemical, sodium selenate, can be lethal if handled incorrectly.  Anyone who came in contact with the chemical could find themselves in grave danger and police were advising anyone who may come across it to stay away and call them immediately on 111.  Sodium selenate has the appearance of white powder the consistency of fine sugar. The stolen chemical was secured in a blue metal drum and was clearly marked.
  • Hanford workers affected by suspected chemical vapors now at 40
    Two workers at the Hanford Site were exposed to suspected chemical vapors on Thursday, sending one to a nearby hospital and another to the on-site medical clinic. The incident happened around 7:15 a.m., according to a statement issued by Washington River Protection Solutions, one of the private contractors performing clean-up work at Hanford. The statement said the worker who received treatment at the on-site clinic returned to work later in the day. According to other workers who witnessed the incident, the two people who received medical attention were working outside of the A tank farm and were not wearing respirators. A group of workers inside A farm saw one of the two fall to the ground, after which they called for assistance. None of the workers in the group that witnessed the incident was affected; all of these workers were wearning respirators. That brings to 40 the number of workers who, since mid-March, required some sort of medical attention after reporting being exposed to chemical vapors escaping from huge tanks holding nuclear waste. Just last week the U.S. Department of Energy took reporters on a tour of the site to showcase safety precautions and to report that none of its own studies had detected chemical vapors this year. Energy officials did not rule out vapor exposure as a possible cause of the workers' conditions, but stressed that no air monitoring tests had picked up signs of chemical in the air at the site.
  • Two women rushed to Swedish Hospital after possible hazmat exposure
    Over sixteen Seattle Fire Department units have been dispatched to a hazardous material report at Keller Supply and Company at 3209 17th Ave. W. in Interbay. Two women were exposed to something that caused them to have a rash and one to vomit after fainting. The women were rushed to Swedish Hospital on Cherry Hill in basic life support condition. Scott Yurczyk, Battalion Chief with Seattle Fire Department, said that no other people in the building experienced medical effects. Furthermore there was no indication to what caused the reaction because there were no reports of fire or a chemical scent. There is a chemical business next door and a rail yard behind the business, but Yurczyk reported they have checked those areas with no leads. SFD said it was unlikely the agent that caused the reaction came from inside the business because there are very few chemical products offered at the plumbing supply store. However, they are still ruling out causes.
  • HAZMAT team briefly evacuates southwest Charlotte business
    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hazmat crews were called out to a business in southwest Charlotte Thursday morning to investigate a hazmat leak on Westinghouse Blvd. Officials told Channel 9 that a truck pulled into IGM Resins on Westinghouse Blvd. around 10 a.m. and when an employee opened the back of the truck, some strong fumes were released. The Charlotte Fire Department was called and the business was briefly evacuated as a precaution. Nobody was hospitalized. The company performs coatings for wood and metal and they said they were unsure if the chemicals on the truck belonged to them.
  • HAZMAT secured; Ashland closed at Roosevelt on Near West Side
    CHICAGO (WLS) -- An acid leak coming from a truck on the city's Near West Side is secured, but Chicago Fire Department officials said Ashland Avenue remains closed at Roosevelt Road. Officials said Ashland could be closed for several hours Wednesday evening while Hazmat teams clean the area and remove the truck.
  • Chemical spill closes Kuhio Highway
    LIHUE — County officials were forced to shut down Kuhio Highway in Kapaia following a chemical spill Tuesday morning that left a strong odor of bleach lingering in the area. A truck carrying multiple containers of hypochlorite solution, a water treatment agent, was northbound on Kuhio Highway near Maalo Road around 8:30 a.m. when one of the tie-down straps broke, causing two of the containers to spill onto the roadway, according to a preliminary report. DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the 12-percent bleach solution was being transported for laundry services by BEI Hawaii, the state’s largest distributor of agricultural and industrial chemicals.
  • Chemical covered dogs lead to hazmat response in East Liverpool
    EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio - Experts in the handling of hazardous materials were dispatched to an abandoned facility on the East End of East Liverpool on Wednesday just before 12:00 PM after a woman found her dogs covered with a tar-like substance. Alecia O'Hanlon tells 21 News her dog Miley, a Pitbull Mix was covered in the black substance on Tuesday evening, and also had severe cuts to her body, "Actually the person who found her they had to pull her out.  They said there was about a foot of tar.  She was glued to the ground basically.  If she wouldn't have been found, she would have been dead." First responders from local fire departments and a hazmat team from West Virginia and Columbiana County Emergency Management spent the day at the former Dacar Chemical Plant on Michigan Avenue. The area was cordoned off as crews inspected the site in an attempt to determine if chemicals there posed any environmental risk.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists Dacar as an EPA regulated site. A search of the EPA database shows no known records of violations or enforcement issues over the past five years. The EPA has also been called to the scene, and a representative from Dacar is on site.
  • Feds: combustible dust safety guidance needed after 2010 West Virginia explosion that killed 3
    A New Cumberland metal recycling plant lacked a safety system to collect combustible dust during a 2010 explosion that killed three people and injured another, according to federal investigators. In Charleston on Wednesday, the Chemical Safety Board released findings about the December 2010 explosion at AL Solutions. The board determined that defective blender equipment containing combustible particles likely sparked the blast. AL Solutions may have exacerbated its problems by using water safety sprays in its facility. The board said water could have reacted with molten metal and contributed to the explosion. Repeating its advice from 2006, the board suggested that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration create a combustible dust safety standard. The chemical board found the safety administration hadn't conducted a dust inspection at AL Solutions before the 2010 explosion, despite past incidents. The safety administration's dust inspections occur on a random basis, regardless of previous problems, the board said.